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WHO chief says world should prepare for severe flu

GENEVA, May 22 (Reuters) - Countries should be ready for more serious H1N1 infections, and more deaths from the newly-discovered virus, World Health Organisation chief Dr. Margaret Chan said on Friday.

"In cases where the H1N1 virus is widespread and circulating within the general community, countries must expect to see more cases of severe and fatal infections," she said. "We do not at present expect this to be a sudden and dramatic jump in severe illness and deaths."

She stressed in closing remarks to the WHO's annual assembly that there was little real difference between the current pandemic alert level of 5 and the highest of 6, and said she would consult experts before deciding to raise it again. "I will be advised by the emergency committee," she said. (Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay, Katie Reid and Laura MacInnis)

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