GENEVA May 23 (Prensa Latina) The A(H1N1) flu epidemic has continued to spread worldwide and the number of cases exceeds 1,200 in more than 40 countries, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

The number of cases has increased over the past few days in Asia, where the Philippines reported its first patient and new cases were confirmed in Japan, China, Australia and Taiwan.

Officials at the Manila-based WHO office for the Asia-Pacific region warned that ‘the flu season is about to begin in the southern hemisphere and the factors that contribute to its propagation will also speed up the spreading of the A(H1N1) virus.’

WHO Director Margaret Chan said the developing countries needed to act very fast to improve their surveillance systems against the A(H1N1) virus, whose consequences might be worse.

At the closing session of the WHO annual congress, Chan noted that although there are no predictions about a drastic increase in the number of cases, the world must be prepared for new serious cases and deadly contagions.

‘In cases where the H1N1 virus is widespread and circulating within the general community, countries must expect to see more cases of severe and fatal infections, she said.

‘This is a subtle, sneaky virus, she added.