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Other News: WHO Declares H1N1 Flu a Pandemic

In other news, the World Health Organization declared the first global flu pandemic in 41 years, and four Chinese Muslims detained at Guantanamo Bay were released to Bermuda.

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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.

  • Organization:

    DR. MARGARET CHAN, director general, World Health 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.

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