Technology & Science

H1N1 still a pandemic: WHO chief

The peak of the H1N1 pandemic flu activity seems to have passed, World Health Organization director general Margaret Chan says.

The peak of the H1N1 pandemic flu activity seems to have passed, the World Health Organization said Thursday.

WHO director-general Margaret Chan said the agency's committee of advisors unanimously said while the period of most intense pandemic activity has passed for most parts of the world, pandemic disease is expected to continue.

The committee will meet again by mid-July to review the pandemic status after more data from the flu season in the southern hemisphere is available.

The pandemic alert level has been at its top level of phase 6 since June 2009.

"The most active areas of pandemic influenza virus transmission are currently in tropical areas, primarily in parts of the Caribbean and Southeast Asia," the UN health agency said in a statement.  "These areas are now experiencing a relatively low level of resurgence of cases after experiencing more intense activity during July 2009."

The committee stressed countries should stay vigilant about public health measures for disease control and influenza surveillance, the WHO said.

The alert level could be moved down to "post-peak" or "post pandemic" when circulation of the virus declines.

Chan's decision determines how the UN health agency's 193 member governments handle the outbreak, such as stockpiling vaccines and antivirals.

Last week, WHO confirmed 18,114 deaths among people with confirmed H1N1 since the start of the outbreak in April 2009.

With files from The Associated Press