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Other News: WHO Declares H1N1 Flu a Pandemic

June 11, 2009 at 6:05 PM EDT
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JIM LEHRER: In other news today: The World Health
Organization declared swine flu a pandemic. It’s the first global flu epidemic
in 41 years.

The infection has now spread to 74 countries, infected
nearly 29,000 people, and killed 144.

We have a report narrated by Tom Clarke of Independent
Television News.

TOM CLARKE: Since swine flu first appeared, the name of the
game has been containment, stopping the virus escaping into the wider world.

Today, the World Health Organization finally admitted that
game over and declared the first flu pandemic in 40 years.

DR. MARGARET CHAN, director general, World Health
Organization: The world is now at the start of the 2009 influenza pandemic. We
are in the earliest days of the pandemic. The virus is spreading under a close
and careful watch. No previous pandemic has been detected so early or watched
so closely in real time right at the very beginning.

TOM CLARKE: Swine flu has now arrived in 74 countries. There
have been significant outbreaks in Chile
and Mexico,
where the disease originated.

North America has seen the most cases, with 13,000 in the U.S. and 2,500 in Canada. But there are now 1,200
cases in Australia
and 822 in the U.K. Public health experts have told Channel 4 News the virus is
now spreading beyond clusters here. The government will soon have to abandon
its containment policy and start treating only the most vulnerable cases with
drugs and vaccines.

But, as the W.H.O. warned today, it’s the poorest countries,
without surveillance or drugs, that will fare worst as the pandemic widens.

JIM LEHRER: In the U.S., health officials said they will not
change their response to the swine flu. The head of the Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention said the government has already been treating the
outbreak like a pandemic.

Four Chinese Muslim detainees once held at Guantanamo Bay
are now living in Bermuda. The premier of
Bermuda, a British territory in the Atlantic,
said the men will be allowed to live, work and pursue citizenship there.

It marks the first resettlement of Uighurs since 2006. China
has opposed their release to any other country. That includes the Pacific
nation of Palau,
which yesterday agreed to take 13 other Uighurs still in detention.

There was a lull in campaign activity in Iran the day before a presidential
election. No campaigning is permitted in the 24-hour run-up to the vote.
President Ahmadinejad faces a strong challenge from Mir Hossein Mousavi. He has
accused Ahmadinejad of downplaying the scope of Iran’s problems, including
inflation and unemployment.

Some 40,000 polling stations open around the country
tomorrow morning.

An 88-year-old man was charged with murdering a security
guard at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington. Police said James Von Brunn shot
Stephen Johns to death yesterday after he had opened the entrance door for the
elderly man. Von Brunn, a Holocaust denier and white supremacist, was then shot
and critically injured by other security guards on site.

Today, D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty praised their efforts.

ADRIAN FENTY (D), mayor of Washington, D.C.: Their efforts
yesterday to bring this government down so quickly literally saved the lives of
countless people. As was chronicled yesterday, there were thousands of people
inside the Holocaust
Museum. And one life lost
is a tragedy, but this could have been much, much worse.

JIM LEHRER: The Holocaust Memorial Museum was closed today
to pay tribute to its fallen security guard. The alleged gunman is still being
treated at a Washington
hospital.

Some new economic data out today signaled, the recession may
be easing. The Commerce Department said demand for cars and gasoline helped
retail sales grow in May, for the first time in three months.

The Labor Department reported new unemployment claims fell
by more than expected last week. But the number of Americans receiving jobless
benefits remains the highest on record. And the Federal Reserve reported American
households lost $1.3 trillion of wealth in the first three months of the year.

On Wall Street today, the Dow Jones industrial average
gained more than 31 points, to close above 8770. The Nasdaq rose nine points,
to close at 1862.