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