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WHO declares first 21st century flu pandemic

GENEVA (Reuters) - The World Health Organization declared the first flu pandemic of the 21st century on Thursday, urging countries to shore up defenses against the virus which is "not stoppable" but has proved mainly mild so far.

The United Nations agency raised its pandemic flu alert to phase 6 on a six-point scale, indicating the first influenza pandemic since 1968 is under way.

"This is a very important and challenging day for all of us. It is important because we will be raising our pandemic alert level to level 6," WHO Director-General Dr. Margaret Chan told reporters on a teleconference.

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