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Global A/H1N1 flu death toll exceeds 700, says WHO
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The A/H1N1 flu death toll has exceeded 700 worldwide since the outbreak of the disease in April, the World Health Organization (WHO) said Tuesday.

The WHO, which declared the flu as a pandemic on June 11, said it was up to national health authorities to decide what kind of measures they should take to mitigate the effect of the pandemic.

"Different countries would be facing the pandemic at different levels at different times. So it is really up to countries to consider what mitigation measures suit them in regard to the situation in individual countries," WHO spokeswoman Alphaluck Bhatiasevi told a news briefing.

The WHO said last week that the A/H1N1 flu has been spreading at unprecedented speed, and further spread within countries being affected and to new countries is considered inevitable.

Thais wearing disposable masks pose during a campaign promoting the use of face masks to prevent infection by the H1N1 flu virus, at a hospital in Nonthaburi province, on the outskirts of Bangkok, July 13, 2009. [Xinhua/Reuter]

So far, more than 130 countries and regions have been affected by the pandemic, with many of them experiencing sustainable community transmission.

The WHO has recommend countries with large-scale outbreaks to stop confirming all cases through laboratory tests, as "this strategy is absorbing most national laboratory and response capacity, leaving little capacity for the monitoring and investigation of severe cases and other exceptional events."

The UN agency stressed the need to closely monitor unusual events, such as clusters of cases of severe or fatal virus infection, clusters of respiratory illness requiring hospitalization, or unexplained or unusual clinical patterns associated with serious or fatal cases.

The A/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.

(Xinhua News Agency July 22, 2009)


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