Government of the Federated States of Micronesia

World Health Organization Raises Pandemic Alert to Level 6

Palikir, Pohnpei (FSM Information Services): June 12, 2009 - Beginning in late March of this year, many parts of the world have been experiencing an outbreak of a new influenza virus, called "influenza A/H1N1" (formerly called "swine influenza"). This virus causes a respiratory disease similar to, but potentially more serious than, regular seasonal influenza ("the flu").

As the virus has continued to spread throughout the world, all countries including FSM have activated their Pandemic Preparedness plans, to prepare themselves for a possible pandemic, or worldwide epidemic. This has included public health measures at points of entry (for example airports), public information campaigns, and healthcare facility preparedness.

Today, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared "Phase 6" in its Pandemic Phases system, indicating that a pandemic is occurring. The declaration of Phase 6 will help guide FSM in its planning and response activities. The declaration of a pandemic indicates that the virus is widespread, not necessarily how severe the disease is. However, WHO is concerned about this virus because it is new and one to which most people do not have immunity, there is not yet a vaccine for this disease, it is spreading rapidly, and it behaves differently from seasonal influenza (for example, it is affecting younger people and those with no underlying health conditions).

What the Public Can Do:

  • Stay informed. This is an evolving situation and Health officials will provide additional information as it becomes available.

  • Be prepared for the possibility that the government may need to take extra steps to prevent the spread of infection, such as suspending school, church, and other large group gatherings.

  • Do not go to school or work, or travel if you are sick, particularly if you have a fever and respiratory symptoms.

  • Contact your doctor if you have flu-like symptoms. Even if you do not go see a doctor, you should stay home (for 7 days after your symptoms begin or until you have been symptom-free for 24 hours, whichever is longer). This is to keep from spreading the virus to other people.

  • Everyone should take these everyday Flu W.A.T.C.H. steps to protect your health and lessen the spread of the flu virus:

  • WASH YOUR HANDS often with soap and water for 20 seconds, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers are also effective.

  • AVOID SICK PEOPLE and AVOID TOUCHING YOUR EYES, NOSE, AND MOUTH. Germs spread this way.

  • TEACH others how to prevent the flu.

  • COVER YOUR COUGH OR SNEEZE. Use a tissue or your sleeve not your hands! Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it and wash your hands.

  • HAVE an emergency plan ready and keep a two week supply of food and emergency supplies and basic medicine at home.

Local agencies and organizations can contribute to our efforts in 3 important ways:

  1. Communicate and actively pass along reliable information such as these updates to your members, employees, customers and their families.

  2. Continue to encourage your members and employees to adopt healthy behaviors such as the Flu WATCH tips above and to share such information with their families.

  3. Implement workplace policies that support healthy behaviors. An example of a workplace policy is one that would advise employees who are sick or have flu-like symptoms to stay home.

For additional information, contact the FSM Department of Health and Social Affairs at 320-2619.


For further information on this release, please contact:

FSM Office of the President
Public Information: Press, Radio, Video
P.O Box 34
Palikir Station, Pohnpei, FM 96941
Tel.: (691) 320-2548/2092
Fax.: (691) 320-4356
e-mail: fsmpio@mail.fm
http://www.fsmpio.fm/