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Number of flu cases in Japan tops million mark

The Yomiuri Shimbun –

TOKYO — The number of flu-stricken patients in Japan reached about 1.11 million in the week ended Jan. 20, an increase of about 400,000 from the previous week, according to figures compiled by the health ministry.

In the week starting Jan. 16, the number of patients suffering from influenza reported to the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry from about 5,000 medical institutions was about triple that of a week earlier. The number of patients per medical institution during that period was 22.73 persons, up from 7.33 persons the week before, according to the ministry.

An official at the ministry has called for citizens to maintain good health and wash their hands thoroughly after being outside, saying, “People in the Kanto region especially need to be careful, as the number of patients there is expected to increase from now on.”

By age group, it is estimated the largest number of flu patients, about 310,000, are aged from 5 to 9. About 200,000 patients are aged from 10 to 14, while about 170,000 are aged up to 4 years. More than 60 percent of patients are aged 14 or younger.

Eleven prefectures are on alert for a flu epidemic as the number of patients per medical institution has exceeded 30, including 59.88 in Fukui Prefecture, 59.31 in Kochi Prefecture and 52.17 in Mie Prefecture.

The ministry is anticipating the epidemic will peak in early February.

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