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WHO getting close to declaring H1N1 pandemic

GENEVA, June 9 (Reuters) - The World Health Organisation said on Tuesday it was getting close to declaring a full-blown pandemic caused by the H1N1 virus, which has infected more than 26,500 people in 73 countries.

Keiji Fukuda, acting WHO assistant director-general, voiced concern at the sustained spread of the new strain in countries including Australia following major outbreaks in North America. Confirmed community spread in a second region would trigger moving to phase 6 from phase 5 on its 6-level pandemic alert scale.

Fukuda, asked whether there was any doubt that a pandemic was under way, told a weekly teleconference: "We are really getting very close to that." (Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay:editing by Andrew Dobbie)

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