Just seven weeks after the swine flu epidemic was discovered in North America, the official number of cases has grown to approximately 22,000 across 71 countries. The World Health Organization’s (WHO) flu experts convened on Friday in a meeting that discussed the importance of evaluating the severity of the swine flu in light of the possibility of announcing a level 6 pandemic.
Currently, the agency maintains a level 5, which signals that a pandemic is “imminent,” with Australia, Chile, Japan, Spain, and the UK showing early indications of the virus spreading within their own communities, a key pandemic criterion.Australia has reported more than 1,000 cases, tripling in just one week, with cases in the most affected area of Victoria state being twice as high as the most afflicted continent of North America. In the United Kingdom, nearly 550 people have fallen ill with the swine flu, with some requiring hospitalization and new cases being confirmed virtually daily.
Local health officials in the South American country of Chile said that 2 percent of the nation’s almost 400 cases, the most in South America, have caused serious complications, including one fatality. The WHO is also warning that countries must prepare for more severe infections should the virus mutate, as it regularly does given conducive conditions such as a factory farms. If the current virus mutates into a stronger form even in just one farm, it eventually could claim up to tens of millions of lives.
We thank the scientists at the National Autonomous University of Mexico and the World Health Organization for your diligent efforts to safeguard global public health. We pray for the swine flu victims and their families’ recovery and comfort, and for our world’s ultimate protection through the choice of wholesome plant-based foods.