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WHO Says Highest Pandemic Level Possible

LONDON — A World Health Organization spokesman says the agency may raise its pandemic level to its highest alert, signifying a swine flu pandemic.

WHO uses a six-level scale to assess the world’s risk. Last Wednesday, the agency raised the level to 5. Level 6 means a global outbreak of swine flu is under way.

WHO spokesman Dick Thompson said Monday that the organization has to be open to all possibilities and future plans will be dictated by the virus.

In an interview with the Spanish newspaper El Pais published Monday, WHO chief Margaret Chan has implied the agency might raise its alert to level 6. She played down the impact of going to level 6 saying she was concerned about causing unnecessary panic.