"The World Health Organization raised the swine flu alert Thursday to its highest level, saying H1N1 has spread to enough countries to be considered a global pandemic.
Increasing the alert to Level 6 does not mean that the disease is deadlier or more dangerous than before, just that it has spread to more countries, the WHO said.
As of Wednesday evening, the virus had spread to 72 countries, the health agency said. There were 25,288 confirmed cases and 139 deaths. The United States had 13,217 cases and 27 deaths, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday."
Here in Rhody -
"The state Department of Health has confirmed 39 cases of H1N1 swine flu in Rhode Island as of 11 a.m. Tuesday, twice as many as a week ago.
Health officials report that the illness continues to spread around the state, with increases in isolated cases as well as clusters of flu-like illnesses. Growing numbers of children and people with chronic health problems are getting sick, and more are being hospitalized.
Most illnesses in Rhode Island have been milder than seasonal influenza, but 10 people with swine flu have required hospitalization.
Late Monday, the North Providence School Department announced that the Greystone Elementary School would close for the rest of the week because three children tested positive for swine flu.
"We are seeing more cases in schools, more hospitalizations and more individuals who have underlying medical conditions being affected," said Health Director David R. Gifford, in a statement. "Everyone needs to continue to be vigilant about handwashing, coughing and sneezing into elbows, and staying home if they are sick. We expect that this will likely continue throughout the summer and into the fall.""