GENEVA (AFP) - The world is getting closer to a swine flu pandemic as the virus shows early signs of spreading locally in some countries outside the Americas, a senior World Health Organisation official said Tuesday. Globally we believe that we are at phase five but are getting closer to phase six, said Keiji Fukuda, WHO assistant director-general, referring to the agencys six-level pandemic alert system. Phase five signals that a pandemic is imminent while the world would be in an official pandemic marking global spread at phase six. It is clear that the virus continues to spread internationally. We know there are a number of countries that appear to be in transition moving from travel-related cases to established, more established, community-type spread, added Fukuda. He noted in particular that countries like Britain, Spain Japan, Chile and Australia are showing larger numbers of influenza A(H1N1) infections, with some early spread into communities. A criteria for the WHO to move the six-scale alert to the top phase six would be established community spread in a country outside the first region in which the disease was initially reported, in this case, outside the Americas. However, we still are waiting for really widespread community activity in these countries. So I think its fair to say that they are in transition and are not quite there yet, thats why we are not in phase six yet, he said. Other than geographical spread, member states have asked WHO to integrate an assessment of the diseases severity into its criteria for moving up the alert scale and declaring a pandemic. Some 18,965 cases of infections including 117 deaths have been reported to the WHO by 64 countries around the world.