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Thursday, 18 June, 2009, 12 : 00 PM [IST]

UN Secretary General says flu pandemic must not cause travel bans

According to Reuters, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon recently said that reactions to the World Health Organisation's (WHO) declaration of a flu pandemic must be grounded in science and avoid arbitrary limits on trade and travel. He said, “We must guard against rash and discriminatory actions such as travel bans or trade restrictions. Our response to any pandemic must be grounded in science.” The WHO declared the first flu pandemic of the 21st Century last week, urging countries to shore up defences against the virus, which is "not stoppable" but has proved mainly mild so far. Ban Ki-moon stressed the declaration was a formal statement about the geographic spread of disease, adding, “It is not in itself a cause for alarm.”

He said while the virus had so far proved not as severe as feared, the world must be watchful, particularly as it spreads to poorer countries with less developed health systems and as the Southern hemisphere enters the flu season. “We will work with national governments and the World Health Organisation to ensure that our response is as well-coordinated and as effective as possible,” he said. He called for global solidarity, adding that virus samples and other information about the disease must be widely and openly shared. Ban Ki-moon said he would convene a meeting of his Influenza Steering Committee this week to map out the next steps.
 
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