UN agency urges vigilance as AH1N1 virus continues to spread

“Certainly two or three weeks ago the headlines were all about A(H1N1); now that’s not the case so much,” Gregory Hartl of the UN World Health Organization (WHO) said in an interview with UN Radio. “But the threat of A(H1N1) becoming a pandemic virus is even greater than it was two or three or four weeks ago,” he stated, adding that the agency is closely watching how the infection is developing outside of the Americas.According to WHO, 66 countries have officially reported 19,273 cases of the new flu strain, including 117 deaths, as of today. The agency’s pandemic alert level remains at Phase 5 – on a six-point warning scale – meaning that sustained human-to-human transmission of the virus on a community level is mostly restricted to a single geographic region, in this case North America.Mr. Hartl said WHO is closely monitoring the situation. “We would say not for anyone to let down their guard because we might be living through a few weeks or months in the Northern Hemisphere of reduced influenza activity because it is the summer.“I think everyone though would be well advised to be ready and aware of the fact that in the autumn in the Northern Hemisphere – in the autumn anywhere – his virus could reappear very strongly again.”He added that it is possible to see an easier spread of the virus in the Southern Hemisphere, where winter is just beginning.“We need to watch the behaviour of A(H1N1) very carefully as it encounters other influenza viruses circulating during the winter season in the Southern Hemisphere,” WHO Director-General Margaret Chan told the World Health Assembly in Geneva recently. “The current winter season gives influenza viruses an opportunity to inter-mingle and possibly exchange their genetic material in unpredictable ways,” she noted. 3 June 2009Although the influenza A(H1N1) infection may not be making news headlines like it did several weeks ago, it is continuing to spread globally and the United Nations health agency is considering raising its pandemic alert level, a spokesperson for the body said today. read more

Toys R Us Canada unveils plans to open two smaller stores next

TORONTO — Toys “R” Us Canada says it will open two new stores in the first half of 2020 — a day after the company’s president resigned from the retail chain.An executive says the two stores will be smaller than the company’s typical big-box format, but bigger than its roughly 930-square-metre Guelph, Ont., location dubbed a Toybox that opened last year.Frank Juhasz says the locations have yet to be announced, but they won’t be in a major market like Toronto.The expansion to 85 stores comes after a tumultuous time for the toy seller after its American and U.K. counterparts liquidated stores, and the Canadian business sought creditor protection.Fairfax Financial Holdings Ltd. eventually purchased the Canadian operation for $300 million and has plans to significantly grow the company.The expansion news came shortly after the company’s president, Melanie Teed-Murch, tendered her resignation Monday after more than two decades working with the company. Companies in this story: (TSX:FFH).The Canadian Press read more