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Japan to phase out onboard quarantine inspections as new flu cases total 178

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"Health and Welfare Minister Yoichi Masuzoe indicated that airport quarantine efforts would be scaled down and urged flexibility in anti-flu measures since the swine flu is now believed to be no more infectious than seasonal influenza. Health officials want to make sure that hospital beds are not clogged up with mild patients and that business and community activities are not paralyzed due to overreaction."

TOO LATE!!!

I HOPE YOU'RE HAPPY NOW!!!

The really should rename the "Swine Flu" to "Sheep Flu" because it really shows just how people are like sheep and couldn't stop for one minute to think for themselves. This is really showing that people are doomed if they can't stop and take a moment to think for themselves.

Case in point, I was buying porkchops for a little BBQin' and people where looking at me like I had a deathwish because I was going to catch the swine flu from eating pork. SERIOUSLY!!! I just lowered my head and walked away because I couldn't believe people could be soooo clueless.

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Amazing that Japan is now fourth, and the only country not in N.America too. It will be second or top by the time this thing is over. The govt must be scratching its head wondering how this has happened, as it seemed that the country was rather smug about the lack of cases a few weeks ago, but now look. Wildfire...

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Knowbetter -- agree. When at least the first ten minutes or so of each and every NHK broadcast for the last couple of weeks has been nothing but showing health inspectors running around airports in hospital gowns and/or people flocking to buy masks, what can you expect from a population that is taught by birth not to think for themselves and trust the authorities to do what is best for them? Shame that people here cannot weigh the actual facts for themselves and then make an appropriate decision.

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"Richard_the_First at 02:36 PM JST - 19th May

Amazing that Japan is now fourth, and the only country not in N.America too. It will be second or top by the time this thing is over. The govt must be scratching its head wondering how this has happened, as it seemed that the country was rather smug about the lack of cases a few weeks ago, but now look. Wildfire..."

Maybe it started in Japan and it was someone leaving Japan for Mexico that started Mexico's outbreak... Really I'm joking but at this point does it really matter? It's the Flu and this sort of thing happens so just move along. Nothing to see hear except for a country full of mask wearing sheep. Bhaaaa, bhaaa, bhaaaaa, bhaaa.

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KnowBetter,

Have you ever had the flu? I have so don't want a repeat, and particularly during a period of mass hysteria which is bound to follow once this thing grips hold of the nation. I do hope the govt. has sufficient stockpiles of Tamiflu.

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The U.S. has a population of just over 306 million people.

About 36,000 Americans die on average per year from the complications of flu. ( http://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/qa/disease.htm )

There are 6.78 billion people on this planet so using a 1st world nation's death rate ( the U.S. ) for the common flu is a fairly conservative way to figure out how many would die world wide from the the common flu EVERY YEAR which would be 797,200 DEAD ( pretty sure the number is WAY higher) and that is the normal FLU not this FANCY Swine flu that they claim is far worse because CNN and NHK scare you into believing the hype. So far only 76 confirmed dead with this strain of the Flu.

Remember SARS During November 2002 through July 2003, a total of 8,098 people worldwide became sick with severe acute respiratory syndrome that was accompanied by either pneumonia or respiratory distress syndrome (probable cases), according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Of these, 774 died. By late July 2003, no new cases were being reported, and WHO declared the global outbreak to be over. ( http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/sars/faq.htm )

Remember the how the world almost stopped traveling because of all the hype? Remember the fear created by the media and how Japan went right off the deep end? Nah, history isn't repeating its self again...

Now if you really want to worry about something that you can prevent think about this: Around 1.5 million people die each year worldwide due to smoking-related diseases, a rate of one death every 13 seconds. ( http://www.emro.who.int/Publications/HealthEdReligion/Smoking/QA.htm )

For Japan, over 336,000 people die in that country from cancer and most of these have lung cancer. http://ezinearticles.com/?How-Many-People-Die-From-Cancer-Each-Year?&id=2038102

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This may be a mild form of the flu, but nobody has immunity, so it will spread quickly. When it mutates into something worse (when, not if), it will affect a lot of people seriously. That said, it is still a mild form, so being a bit more restrained in one's panic is probably a good idea. Handwashing and masks are fine, but closing all the schools seems a bit much, at least for now.

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Richard the First,

Yes, I've had the Flu many times over and some of the worst cases were due to being stressed out and overly tired which really wore down my immune system. When I've been at peak performance I was one of only 3 people in my company of 65 that didn't catch the Flu.

My point is that this pretty much common Flu will do far more damage now that everyone is COMPLETELY FREAKED OUT thanks in whole part to the mass media idiots.

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Now, start checkig planes coming to Okinawa so it will not come down here. Nuckle heads.

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the whole "self medication" idea doesn't work when there is an "epidemic"

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Richard the First-- Do you think you will actually get some Tamiflu from your doctor? How do you expect to know what is in that little packet of pills? Face the facts! You're a gaijin in an uncivilized world, and you had just better pray that this thing doesn't kill you.

KnowBetter-- You may be joking, but do consider how many diseases and various fungi have come out of Asia. As the lady interviewed on NHK after the discovery that Takashimaya was dumping sewage more or less stated: It's odd because we Japanese are so hygienic. Hack! Hack! Cough! Cough! Flush!

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Can't believe all the dismissive remarks. Sure it looks mild now, but if it mutates while spreading, it could become 1918 all over again.

Don't panic, but be prudent in what measures you follow. Trying to stop the spread is a good idea. Keep the kids home, tell companies to tell their sick to stay home. And practice good and careful hygene.

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Anyone speaking Kansai-ben is now the new foreigner in Japan.

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@Knowbetter So in your opinion, there is little chance of Swine flu mutating with Avian flu into a strain that is easily passed between humans, but much more lethal? Precautions are wise. Remember that there is still a lot to learn about this strain. So being one out of 65 who didn't get infected, are you suggesting that through skill and determination you avoided the virus?

BTW, don't disagree that the common flu is a large killer, but the point here is relating to a potential mutation, not swine flu itself.

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It makes me laugh when a frail looking salary man jumps on the train and then lets off a volley of yakuza SHOUT sneezing

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infected regions? The country is the size of California. Japan in it's entirety is a region.

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An assistant teacher in a surburban Kobe school, I'm sitting idly in the staff room with nothing to do for the rest of the week. All the other teachers will stay here until at least 6pm, and at this moment are all quietly pretending to look busy.

Surprisingly, 5 of the 6 people who were wearing masks when I arrived this morning have removed them, but unsurprisingly 5 of the 6 were women. The vice principal circulated the room handing out multiple masks to everybody. I asked my desk neighbour if he would wear one and he replied, "outside, yes". On my commute about 90% of people were mask clad, and it was no different out in the open air compared to the train carraige. Their tentative collective demeanour is markedly enhanced, and the masks draw attention to the dead (or afraid) eyes. Feel like I'm in a movie like 28 Days Later.

Don't people realise that it's pretty hard to be infected by anything that isn't a potent biological/chemical agent outside in a fresh morning breeze? And yet, there has never been any soap in the students' toilets at my current and previous schools, and the two public toilets I visited yesterday were equally soapless.

I caught Type B flu a few months ago and was knocked around quite a bit, but it definitely wasn't that bad. This flu will be no different, just more people will get it. Really interesting to be in Japan right now...

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@ aparth Interesting story - especially the soapless part and about wearing the mask outside.

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As Tokind commented above, this is all very amuzing until the virus mutates into something more vicious. If that happens, shxt will really hit the fan given Japan's small landmass and high population density (which has no doubt contributed to the rapid increase in the number of confirmed cases).

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KnowBetter: Amazing. Usually about 10% of the world population get the seasonal influenza during one (1) year, and in your company over 90% managed to get it. They must be in really bad shape.

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Knowbetter: It's easy to cite past viruses that never became major epidemics (like SARS, Bird flu, etc.), because it's very difficult to prove that all of the precautions and preventative measures taken by different countries actually worked... but what if those actions DID work, and that's why those illnesses never became widespread? Better safe than sorry... I'm not panicking, just trying to remain flu-free, that's all.

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How do you expect to know what is in that little packet of pills?

Tamiflu is yellow and white capsules in blister packs, the capsules look like those used for antibiotics. You'll know if it's Tamiflu if of course the blister packs are stamped with the name 'Tamiflu', they're yellow and white, and the blister packs are unbroken. Surely you aren't intimating that doctors are going to pass off substitutes???

Relenza is foil wheels with four blisters each, that get put in an inhaler-type device, opening the lid punctures the blister and you breathe the powder in quickly...it needs to be taken into the lungs to be effective, so a good quick inhalation is necessary.

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Generally the symptoms are weaker than normal seasonal flu and of those that have died outside Mexico they have had some underlying chronic illness and swine flu was just the last straw...

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swine flu is not the only flu virus with the potential to mutate into something more harmful,the annual seasonal flu viruses can also manage this,sometimes they even manage to mutate into less harmful viruses but you never hear about them as they are less news worthy,mutations are random events with no direction. I suppose at least as a result of the news coverage people are slowly realizing the hidden killing capacity of traditional seasonal flu,horrifying ne and are starting to wash their hands and stop sneezing over everyone.

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@Aparth, Why exactly are you teachers in the affected areas at sch? You probably have been here for some time and may be able to shed some light on the matter.

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dracpoo2: "@Aparth, Why exactly are you teachers in the affected areas at sch? You probably have been here for some time and may be able to shed some light on the matter."

They are expected by their BOEs to go to school. It's always been this way. If there is a horrible hurricane that is killing hundreds in its path, teacher's are still expected to go to school, no joke, and help coordinate things (ie. answer phones and tell parents the school is 'closed'). Some schools will let assistant teachers like Aparth stay home, or tell them to go home early. Others won't, because they themselves cannot leave.

I've mentioned this numerous times before in terms of the 'political'/bureaucratic quarantine that's gone on in thus far -- they'll send some home or tell others not to come, but others will have to go regardless because they shouldn't have time off, etc.

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Personally, I plan to start buying shares in the maker of 'UMAI-BO' as soon as I can.

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Tahooichi: Or with AIDS - the actions worked in some countries, mostly developed, as people did take the precautions seriously. They did not work in places like Africa, where whole villages die in AIDS.

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NHK are saying 191 at the moment. How many tomorrow and when will the first outbreak in Tokyo be?

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I think the virus is already here in Tokyo - how could it not be, if scientists say that this virus has been in the Kansai region perhaps for weeks? It is just a matter of time, that some doctor starts suspecting, now that they know that domestic infection is possible, sends a patient's virus sample to the lab, and bingo.

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Teachers at the public schools I work at here in the US are expected to show up for work unless the weather conditions are unsafe for the kids to travel to school. The exceptions are for "essential employees" which translates to any employee who has a year-round contract (most teachers are on a 10-month contract). "Essential employees" are still required to come into work unless it is almost certain they will have a mishap coming to work or will get stranded once there due to the weather (most often due to icing on the roads in the wintertime). In the 11 years I've been a public school employee, we've only had one complete closure due to a non-icing situation. That closure was due to an approaching hurricane. In the same amount of time, we've had MANY closures for only "non-essential employees" (teachers) and students.

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@smithinjapan You hit the nail on the head there...you have to show your face. Many teachers even get silently resentful of us (assistant teachers) for taking our full quota of annual leave days.

The BOE is definitely freaking out about the possibility of us gaijin teachers catching the flu, because they know our community is tight and it'll spread quickly. I'm guessing they think it's much safer for us to be at school under the watchful eye of our vice principal (apparently the guideline is we must submit to an hourly temperature check). If we were given the week off, we'd get up to all sorts of risky behaviour instead of staying inside the safety of our shoeboxes like a good Japanese.

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