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WHO declares pandemic over; ancient history in BC

The World Health Organization today declared the H1N1 flu pandemic officially over. But it's ancient history in B.C., where the B.C. Centre for Disease Control stopped reporting it almost six months ago.

In her opening statement at a virtual press conference held today, Director General Dr. Margaret Chan said:

The world is no longer in phase 6 of influenza pandemic alert. We are now moving into the post-pandemic period. The new H1N1 virus has largely run its course.

These are the views of members of the Emergency Committee, which was convened earlier today by teleconference.

The Committee based its assessment on the global situation, as well as reports from several countries that are now experiencing influenza. I fully agree with the Committee’s advice.

As we enter the post-pandemic period, this does not mean that the H1N1 virus has gone away. Based on experience with past pandemics, we expect the H1N1 virus to take on the behaviour of a seasonal influenza virus and continue to circulate for some years to come.

Chan mentioned continuing outbreaks in India and New Zealand, but H1N1 (and other influenza-like illnesses) appear to have vanished from British Columbia.

The B.C. Centre for Disease Control published its last update on H1N1 on February 25.

Its latest Influenza Surveillance Bulletin, covering May 3-July 3, reports no influenza detected in B.C.

Crawford Kilian is a contributing editor of The Tyee.

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