The Ministry of Labor, Health and Welfare on Friday officially announced that the influenza season has begun in Japan and that citizens should prepare themselves.
According to the ministry, in the week from Jan 4 to Jan 10, 5,000 medical centers across Japan reported a total of 9,964 influenza patients, averaging about 2.02 cases per hospital, Fuji TV reported.
The highest number of cases were reported in Okinawa, followed by Akita, Niigata, Hokkaido and Chiba prefectures, the ministry said.
As soon as the average number of cases reported rises above the 1.00 official standard average, the ministry judges that the influenza season is in full effect.
This year is the latest in nine years for the flu season to be officially announced. The ministry is expecting the peak season to occur from now until mid-February.
Citizens are being advised to wear protective face masks when in public areas, receive flu shots and thoroughly wash their hands. In particular, schools and facilities for the elderly across Japan are promoting a flu prevention campaign.
Gargling, which used to be recommended as a preventative measure against cold or flu viruses, has been discouraged. A health ministry spokesperson said that there is no clear evidence of gargling’s effectiveness against catching influenza type illnesses.© Japan Today