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Number of flu patients surpasses 1.11 million as epidemic spreads

44 Comments

The number of influenza patients admitted to medical facilities for treatment in Japan reached 1.11 million in the week leading up to Jan 22, the National Institute of Infectious Diseases reported on Friday.

The institute says that the increase in the number of infections was due in part to the virus being prevalent among elementary and junior high school students, NHK reported. Reported infections among 5-14-year-olds increased by a factor of 4.3 over the previous week. As a result, the 5-14 age group now consitutes half of the total number of infections, the institute reported.

Admissions in some hospitals tripled during the week, the institute said. The average number of patients by prefecture was 59.88 in Fukui, 59.31 in Kochi, and 52.17 in Mie. The institute said the infection rate is especially high in the Chubu, Shikoku and Kinki regions.

More than 90% of flu cases are due to the Hong Kong influenza A virus subtype H3N2, the institute said.

The Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare is calling on children and the elderly to take extra precautions to guard against the influenza virus.

The ministry said that it expects reported cases of the virus to peak in the first half of next month and called upon children and the elderly to take extra care to wash their hands thoroughly and to wear surgical face masks in an attempt to minimize the spread of the disease.

© Japan Today

©2021 GPlusMedia Inc.

44 Comments
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when are they gonna tell their children to stop pickn their noses during the flu season!

1 ( +6 / -4 )

Both adults and kids need to learn to stop picking their nose in flu season, learn to cover their mouth when they cough, and wear a mask.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

Beggars believe the amount of people who walk around coughing without covering their mouth and then there are those who get on a crowded train and sneeze all over everyone and dont give a hoot about spreading their germs, sickening quite literally.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

I find most people do cover their noses and mouths when coughing and sneezing.

Now men driving and digging for gold is common around the world.

-5 ( +2 / -7 )

Had to endure sitting opposite a salaryman on the train the other day doing a full-blown pick it-lick it-roll it-flick it right in front of me completely oblivious to my disgusted expression. Wash hands, masks if you are sick and change them regularly - not the same one all day people!

I am sitting here with a hot toddy right now. Its not flu - yet - but my cold has gone right into my lungs, I am coughing up a storm and if I wind up geting flu on top of it I will be in the fast lane of pneumonia highway, heading south! Anyone want a kiss??!

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

How about we stop pretending these masks make the slightest difference and just stay home when we get the'flu, instead of gamanning and transmitting the virus to everyone on the way to, and at, work we're too sick to do?

Oh, I'm sorry, you must excuse me. I thought I could appeal to reason here. Silly of me.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

How about adjusting the thermostat from 19C to at least 22C or 24C. This is very common for elementary and junior high schools because they don't use the heaters much. And they wear those tiny T-shirts and shorts for their PE class.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Both adults and kids need to learn to stop picking their nose in flu season, learn to cover their mouth when they cough, and wear a mask.

Ok... but not cover their mouths with their hands!! That's one thing I can't believe people are still doing. Cough or sneeze into your elbow for christ sake! People cough/sneeze into their hands and then just go touch something else afterwards. wtf

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I agree with Ivan.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I wonder if having the schools cleaned professionally would lower the spread of the flu in schools. The so-called 'osoji' is nothing but a dust over. The toilets never get disinfected cos it is a dangerous chemical for kids to use and I have never seen a handrail being disinfected either. Japanese public schools are disgustingly dirty bacteria factories!

4 ( +5 / -1 )

in the uk from the 1st october the doctor give the needy the vacsine for the flu virus why not japan???

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

heavily subsidized yearly flu shots available to everyone at the local chemist(pharmacy). hand sanitizer dispensers everywhere!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@Sunhawk - Unlike in America, pharmacists aren't allowed to give shots to people in Japan. This may change in the future, but for now you would need a doctor or nurse on staff at a pharmacy and I doubt that will happen. Would be a nice option to have, though.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

karmaproof: "Both adults and kids need to learn to stop picking their nose in flu season, learn to cover their mouth when they cough, and wear a mask."

Agree with the nose-picking thing, and agree people need to cover their mouths when they sneeze and/or cough. The problem is if they cover with their hands on a train or somewhere where they'll touch something before they have a chance to wash, they're going to spread a high concentration of the virus wherever they touch. There was talk about this when swine flu was spreading around rapidly, and I recall it being recommended you kind of cough into your shoulder, although I'm not sure who'd be comfortable blowing a sneeze all over their jacker or suit. Preferably if they use their hands they are carrying tissue or a handkerchief (which they later burn!). Also, masks can be the opposite of effective in preventing spread if the masks are not good quality (preferably not the soft cotton types in which the cloth is pressed directly against your nostrils and mouth), as you will be touching it, having directly transmitted the virus to it via mouth and nose.

One of the main reasons besides the above and the close contact between people here is that viruses are becoming so strong and spreading so rapidly are because of abuse of medicine. Not that it's proof, but it's interesting that many of the people I know who have contracted the virus and been quite sick get yearly flu shots and often take massive satchels full of medicine for the common cold.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

I meant to add, one of the big problems with so many people reporting to hospital for medicine/treatment for the flu is that they're going to spread it there to people who are already there or come after for other reasons.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

in the uk from the 1st october the doctor give the needy the vacsine for the flu virus why not japan???

Why do you assume it's not available here? It is, it's just that not everyone gets the vaccine.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Some of you have it right. It's been shown that viruses are mainly transmitted by touch(not by someone sneezing near you). So your best defense is to avoid putting your hands by your eyes,nose and mouth. And keep those small bottles of hand sanitizer with you at all times. Use it all day on the train and at work.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Germs are like radiation: you can't see it/them, so no need to think about it.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

GodanJAN. 28, 2012 - 08:25PM JST

@Sunhawk - Unlike in America, pharmacists aren't allowed to give shots to people in Japan. This may change in the future, but for now you would need a doctor or nurse on staff at a pharmacy and I doubt that will happen. Would be a nice option to have, though.

Apparently, they don't even provide women with do-it-yourself Vaginal infection cream applicators in the pharmacy. You would have to go to a Gynecologist for him to apply it to you!! Imagine my dismay when I first found out. Something must be wrong when you have to go to the doctor for every little thing.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

The truth is that anyone who is sick should stay at home. However, this is not the case in Japan where people who get sick are sometimes hesitant to call and excuse themselves for the next 2-3 days. We all know how strict the average Japanese working environment is and everyone can be called lazy or a liar if he/she does something like that. Not to mention that there might not be a replacement for him/her in his/her working place.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Overhaul the education system, work environment...perhaps clean public areas professionally. Defiantly schools as this seems to be where it breaks loose. A student with a dried out rag and even less motivation is not going to do a good job It's a news story because it happened! As it does every year.

Communal places, schools, train stations, love hotels, Izakayas, Pachinco parlors...think I covered them all. Professional cleaners...not sleep deprived staff putting in voluntary (rostered) over work.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

@Franchesca - the main rule of thumb for pharmacists in Japan is "Thou shall not touch the patient." The doctors in Japan control almost everything in terms of how healthcare is provided. With their political muscle and deep pockets, it will be a long time before this situation changes regardless of the overabundance of pharmacists and general shortage of doctors. Very sad state of affairs for the residents of Japan, IMHO.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

crazy epidemic, I'd be wearing surgical gloves on public transport and the masks too.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Help protect your child against flu with kidmask.com

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

GodanJAN. 28, 2012 - 10:52PM JST

@Franchesca - the main rule of thumb for pharmacists in Japan is "Thou shall not touch the patient." The doctors in Japan control almost everything in terms of how healthcare is provided. With their political muscle and deep pockets, it will be a long time before this situation changes regardless of the overabundance of pharmacists and general shortage of doctors. Very sad state of affairs for the residents of Japan, IMHO.

That's right, and not only that but the fact that most women's doctors are men. I was really shock to find out that there are probably 1 female for every 100 males or more in this country meaning that the chances of having a woman checking you down there are next to nothing. On the other hand, my husband refuses to be checked by a female nurse which of course I understand his feeling. Why would his male doctor insist in sending a female nurse to perform his prostate exam? Its not sensitive and lack respect towards the patient, IMHO too.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

No shortage of doctors in Japan except to handle an epidemic (no country can really medically handle a large scale epidemic) . Its not doctor's lobby muscle that give doctors so much power otherwise they'd have good samaritan legislation to ensure hospitals don't have to have the resources to cover any possibility of an emergency patient and reduce the opportunities for doctors to be sued. The power of doctors in Japan is more mythological (as a lot of Japan runs on folklore)- its belief in the special power of doctors which permeates Japanese society especially the health ministry (a recent report lambasted the senior health bucreacrats for having little clinical experience).

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Why is flu so prevalent in Asia? Not being a smart a** - just asking if anyone knows? Where I come from - Aus - I don't know of many people that have ever come down with it. And we don't wear masks...

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Ever seen water pass through a sieve? Imagine the virus as the water and the mask as the sieve.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Not surprising that Fukushima is at the top of the list ...........

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

@smithinjapan -

I meant to add, one of the big problems with so many people reporting to hospital for medicine/treatment for the flu is that they're going to spread it there to people who are already there or come after for other reasons

yep! That is exactly how i picked up swine flu when I was pregnant! We all went to the clinic for my daughters post-surgery check up and there were 200 people in there. We wore masks, sat away from everyone else and i sprayed everyones hands every 2 minutes (a little paranoid, being 28 weeks and pregnant women dropping like flies with the virus) but no deal - 5 days later and boom - we all had it. So yeah - the masks dont work as prevention!

@BurakuminDes - I dont know about the rest of Asia but my theory here in Japan is as smithinjapan said: abuse of medicine, dirt paranoia and everyone in too close proximity.

@Franchesca - I didnt even know there was an applicator for...em....those kinds of creams! Can you not just...em....use your finger? blush

Godan is right - doctors have incredible power here and it is shocking how they are allowed to get away with it. i went to see the doctor 3 days ago for this cold - just a scratchy throat, stuffy nose and a bit of a dry cough. No exaggeration - I came away with two sets of pills (28 days each), one for allergies one for a stuffy nose, one asthma inhaler,a bottle of something purple to gargle with after I have used the inhaler, a nasal spray for allergies, and allergy eye drops. He never ONCE said in the clinic he thinks this is an allergy. 7000 yen in total for the meds, and I would have told the pharmacist to shove it but before I could she said "Oooh! You are Washida san, arent you! My son is in the same class as your daughter!!!" Damn!! Now if I tell her Im not taking all the meds it will be all over school that I am cheap, as well as a PTA slacker!

3 ( +4 / -1 )

I remember during H1N1 epidemic, everybody in my country wore masks. People cough in tissues and toss it away after use. My friend whose temp above normal, were sent home by govt hospital after she came back from Aussie. I wore mask everyday and change it daily, elbeit it being stuffy and hot. and we carried hand sanitisers wherever we go. It's not difficult anyway. The hand sanitisers are in small bottle which you can slipped in your handbags/pockets. If your are sick, with symptoms of flu, stay at home. Cook some porride of soup and gets better. When my friend were sent home to self quarantine, all of us encouraged her to stay home, just in case. Though it turned out just a false alarm, but to us, that is better than taking the risk of having her in the packed court room everyday. I think the Japanese employees and employers should differenciate being slacking and being sick and have to stay at home. You can't be having workers who are sick still coming in and spreading virus all over the place, especially when most workers use public transport to go to work. And about only doctors could precribe meds, with due respect to both professions, but I think I would rather believe pharmacist prescribing me the meds after the doctor diagnose me. Pharmacist are professionals too. They go to medical schools too and get degrees for that.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Nicky Washida, some brands do have apllicators. I only found out yesterday.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Ok, at my elementary school flu A is spreading like wild fire. At my jr high a few siblings of the elementary group are getting it as well. The Drs are giving them meds - then the kids return to school the next day.

My 5th grader got sick on Sunday the 22nd. I kept him home monday ... Only to have his 4 year old sister become the same way. Tuesday I took them both to see the Dr. He (50ish) said its flu B (swine). He gave the kids this inhaler powder medication for one dosage, and said that my 5th grader had to stay home until a full 2 days had passed after his fever returned to normal. On Wednesday, my chu 2 (8th grader) also came down with it (swine). Again to the Drs. this time a woman in her late 20s gave my 8th grader meds for phlem, runny nose, cough, upset stomach, fever and powder inhaler - enough for 5 days worth. Also with the same direction of not returning to school for 2 full days after the fever broke.

It is a good thing in my oppinion... But shoulnt flu A have the same rules? Which if you ask me is wrong if it doesnt.

An other point I would like to address is most of the Japanese people (including my husband and his family) I know treat their doctors with the same level as if they were Gods. They dont question, get second oppinions and blindly accept what ever the doctor says and perscribes. The drs also get offended and mad at you when you do question their diagnoses. Which irrates me beyond belief.

So do I think over medication is involved? Or not medicated enough? Well I think it has a lot to do with individual patients and doctors... I think my younger 2 needed a tad more, but my 8th grader... Over done possibly? But (hind sight 20/20) I should have been more me during these checks and not so readily accepting of an answer of a person that had just met my children and daignosed them within 15 minutes. -same sickness - different treatments. Yet hear I am a week later with 3 still sick children at home... On Sunday again.

I take my kids to a learning large hospital - not to a clinic ... Where most of my neighbors go to... Where those drs dont have a supervisor to report to or have polocies they have to follow. So it is a huge possibilty that the clinic doctors were not required to tell their patients the same thing about staying home.

A few years ago I was complimenting my ob/gyn to a large group in Tokyo that he attends conventions, reads the latest journals, has a reference number with a medical library in Hawaii ... A man in the group listening ( that I found out much later he is also a dr - not sure what kind though) said strait out ... That my dr was already a dr and since he graduated from school there was no reason to keep learning more - that my dr is a fool for this unneeded study and learning. Many others there agreed with him... Once again giving the God complex back .... So wrong!

Wont even touch the fact that due to a drs incompetance and Japanese non-asking factors ... My husbands mother died a totally senseless death from uteran cancer ... That was daignosed as menopause for months until it was so big she looked pregnant. At the time of death the tumor was larger than the size of a honey dew melon!

But I digressed - the main factor is nothing is really cleaned properly or sanitized properly in the public use areas either... So germ spread is as easy as just walking threw a room. Which is probably how my kids were infected at first.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

MUST WEAR MASK. MUST WEAR MASK. MUST WEAR MASK.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Masks are useless. The contagious period was several days ago, plus everyone just sneezes openly during the contagious period. There is no money for healthcare for minors in Fukushima, as reported by JT 1/29/12? What is that about.? Is this China where a little loss of life is insignificant? Children are not indispensable numbers. Besides being human beings, they are the future, and for the elite, the taxpayers of socialized medicine in Japan. Japan, this is serious. Protect the children or forget about a prosperous future for the children. Don't hide behind a mask and think everything will be all right.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

isn't it a general rule when you caught flu, you need to stay at home for few days? in the case of Avian flu or H1N1, the general rule in my country is to be quarantined for at least two weeks, if only symptoms. if it's confirmed, they would be admitted to a designated hospitals

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Tried wearing two masks, not one? Whether or not it works, I dunno; but with all the sniffy, coughy, snorty, picky, sneezy folks on the train, doing their best to "share the pain", it makes you feel more secure.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I find that smoking cigarettes prevents me from ever getting the flu. I suspect the heat and poisons in the tobacco easily kill any virus.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

Sometimes when you think you have the flu it is actually an autoimmune issue...lethargy masquerading as the flu... What is happening right now that would cause extra immune deficiencies? Anyone?

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

@Nicky

@Franchesca - I didnt even know there was an applicator for...em....those kinds of creams! Can you not just...em....use your finger? blush

I tried but they have nothing available at the pharmacy. You can only go to the Gyn to get it, meaning you need to spread and let that person do it for you. ARRGH disgusting! Which I won't do anyway, I rather die pardon my french.

@Debbie

What a major coincidence. My husband's mother died of cancer too at 52 I think. I am pretty sure her cancer was misdiagnosed as well. Go figure. The God complex of these so called physicians is getting annoying.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

My kids and I visited the family in the US last fall and we all got our flu shots (covers H1N1, H2N3 and a couple other strains) for US$20.00 each at the local pharmacy (CVS) even though we didn't have any US medical insurance. Sure wish they could have an accessible and affordable system like that here.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

@kurisupisu

Not surprising that Fukushima is at the top of the list ...........

Is it? Oh wait, it's not. That's Fukui, a completely different prefecture that's not especially close to Fukushima. Nice try, though.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

@Franchesca

My MIL was a month away from turning 56. Much much way to young to end a life!

@Christine

My 3 children had fevers and more... The Drs did this nose test to determine flu B... I never had a fever, but very lathargic and simular symptoms to my children... I live in Northern Chiba (Ibaraki is less than 15 km strait from my home). So - maybe its relivant to the radiation, but we will never know staying here in Japan - I am supposing.

@noriyosan73

I have only heard rumors and conjectures - but it was mentioned by some persons in conversation that the reason for not giving free medical help to under 18 years of age... Is due to their suseptability and the problems of what come from radiation into reproducing. Not wanting to believe this personally ... But would they be hoping that these children will die off so that to save future or defered need to support or care for deformed individuals? That is an awful awful thought!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

@Debbie

I have only heard rumors and conjectures - but it was mentioned by some persons in conversation that the reason for not giving free medical help to under 18 years of age... Is due to their suseptability and the problems of what come from radiation into reproducing. Not wanting to believe this personally ... But would they be hoping that these children will die off so that to save future or defered need to support or care for deformed individuals? That is an awful awful thought!

What a pack of monsters running this government. I'm in shock right now. My husband does not trust this government, now I know why.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

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