Lonely Planet Writer

Swine flu now a 'pandemic'. Should you travel?

Yesterday the World Health Organisation declared a global flu pandemic. Sounds pretty scary - what does it actually mean?

WHO chief Dr Margaret Chan explained that 'moving to pandemic phase six does not imply we will see increases in deaths or serious cases.' The announcement was triggered by the presence of the virus in two regions of the world, with cases reported in UK, Australia, Japan and Chile. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon stressed that 'this is a formal statement about the geographical spread of the disease ... It is not in itself a cause for alarm.'

Although the virus is unpredictable, the BBC reports that at this stage 'the current pandemic seems to be moderate and causing mild illness in most people.' Flu expert Professor John Oxford said, 'I don't think anyone should worry because nothing drastic has happened between yesterday and today.'

So should you travel? Absolutely. Dr Chan notes that the WHO 'continues to recommend no restrictions on travel and no border closures.' Our take on it? Stay calm, as the authorities recommend. Keep yourself informed - and keep travelling.

Check out our original swine flu post for recommended resources and more advice. That post also has links to what our travellers are saying about the virus.