Swine flu pandemic over, says world health body

Woman sneezing The majority of cases in the UK have shown only mild symptoms

The swine flu pandemic has been declared officially over by the World Health Organization.

The body said it was moving to the "post-pandemic phase" after many countries, including the UK, had scaled down their emergency measures.

WHO director general Dr Margaret Chan said the virus had "largely run its course".

Millions of people were affected across the world by the infection after it emerged in April last year.

But the pandemic - the first for 40 years - proved much less deadly than many had feared.

In the UK, more than 450 people died, but that was well short of the 65,000 predicted as the worst-case scenario.

The decision by WHO reflects the fact that the virus is only circulating at relatively low levels, in most cases on par with seasonal flu activity.

In a telephone news conference, Dr Chan said: "The world is no longer in phase six of the pandemic alert. We are now moving into the post-pandemic period.

"The new H1N1 virus has largely run its course."

The WHO still said health officials should continue monitoring infection rates - as there is still a chance they could rise again - as well as updating their plans on the basis of what was learnt during the pandemic.

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