GENEVA The World Health Organization announced on Thursday it would no longer provide the global tables showing the numbers of confirmed cases for all countries. However, as part of continued efforts to document the global spread of the H1N1 pandemic, regular updates will be provided describing the situation in the newly affected countries.
“At this point, further spread of the pandemic, within affected countries and to new countries, is considered inevitable,” WHO stated. “The 2009 influenza pandemic has spread internationally with unprecedented speed. In past pandemics, influenza viruses have needed more than six months to spread as widely as the new H1N1 virus has spread in less than six weeks,” making it extremely difficult for countries to try and confirm novel H1N1 infections through laboratory testing.
The novel H1N1 pandemic has been characterized, to date, by the mildness of symptoms in the overwhelming majority of patients, who usually recover, even without medical treatment, within a week of the onset of symptoms, WHO stated. But countries still need to be on guard for signals indicating a more virulent, or more deadly strain, such as spikes in rates of absenteeism from schools or workplaces or a surge in emergency department visits.