Massive Flu Outbreak Hits Japan With 1.64 Million People Contracting Symptoms

TOKYO —The flu season appears to have been in full swing in Japan, with about 1.64 million people estimated to have come down with flu symptoms nationwide over a one-week period through Feb 7, the health ministry said Monday.

The number of nurseries, and elementary and junior high schools that were fully or partially shut down to prevent further outbreak came to 5,995.

This year, flu season began in earnest later than the previous several years, but its outbreak is close to reaching levels seen in average years, according to the ministry. During the week before, an estimated 1.07 million people had been diagnosed with flu.

Flu patient data are based on reports gathered from roughly 5,000 hospital and other medical institutions across the country.

Of the 47 prefectures in the country, Kanagawa had the largest number of flu patients per medical institution during the Feb 1 to 7 period at 48.95, followed by Saitama at 47.52, Aichi at 45.24, Chiba at 44.91 and Fukuoka at 44.40. Tokyo’s figure was 39.43.

In every prefecture, there were more reports of flu patients than in the previous week.

About 400,000 children aged 5 to 9 were diagnosed with flu, making up the largest age group, followed by about 220,000 children between birth and 4 years old, and roughly 220,000 children aged 10 to 14.

The most prevalent type of flu over the last five weeks was the type-A H1N1 strain that became virulent in 2009 as a new type of flu, followed by type-B flu.

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