Flu epidemic warning issued for Tokyo metropolitan area

TOKYO —

Tokyo metropolitan government health officials have issued an influenza epidemic warning, labeling the capital as a high-risk area. 

According to health officials, in the week from Jan 20 to Jan 26, each hospital in the metropolitan area saw an average of 29.7 patients suffering from influenza-related symptoms, TBS reported. Although the criteria for an outbreak to be labeled as an epidemic is usually an average of 30 people per medical institution, Tokyo officials believe that the aforementioned number of infected patients is near enough to warrant an official public warning. 

Meanwhile, 1.32 million cases of flu were reported nationwide in the week to Jan 26, double the previous week, the National Institute of Infectious Diseases said. 

The ministry is advising people to get their flu shots, wash their hands thoroughly with soap and water, and practice general preventative measures in an effort to ward off further flu outbreaks until at least the end of February.

Japan Today

  • 8

    JeffLee

    Why isn't the ministry telling people not to go to work or school if they develop symptoms?

  • 3

    hereforever

    JeffLee, because the pharmaceutical companies need to make their quotas so that they can continue their luxury lives.

  • 9

    smithinjapan

    Don't go to a hospital or clinic if you don't need to. THAT is where you will catch it if you haven't got it already.

  • 1

    marcelito

    Epidemic warning issued - Stop freeing out the public, it's like this every winter because it's... you know...winter.

  • -6

    Slamdunk

    Time to buy "Air doctor" at drug store. Cost you 599Yen and it blocks virus. I just got mine few days ago.

  • 2

    HighLama

    @ JeffLee

    Why isn't the ministry telling people not to go to work or school if they develop symptoms?

    That's beyond the ministry's responsibilities for such outbreaks and up to each organization's business plan. The ministry is there to inform and educate. The company I work for has sent out advisories asking workers to stay home if affected.

  • 0

    25psot

    Keeping body warm and eating vegetables containing antiviral compounds several times per day or at any signs of sickness can also help very nicely in preventing getting sick.

  • 1

    ohayo206

    Time to stock up on extra masks.

  • 4

    smithinjapan

    Slamdunk: "Time to buy "Air doctor" at drug store. Cost you 599Yen and it blocks virus. I just got mine few days ago."

    And I've got a unicorn to sell you. Masks are good for pollen allergies and air pollution, but do nothing from preventing the spread or catching of the flu. In fact, if someone infected from the flu wears a mask the chances of spreading it increase -- they are constantly taking off/adjusting the mask with bare hands, coughing/sneezing into said mask, and basically preparing a petri-dish to hand out. The whole 'virus blocking' mask is about as believable as the 'minus ion' masks or USB clip drives or what have you that were the money-making trend a few years back.

  • 0

    Kakurenbo

    Masks won't help much to protect you from a virus. The virus can enter your system through your eyes.

  • 0

    Educator60

    @smithinjapan seems to be under the mistaken impression that the product named Air Doctor is a mask. It is not.

  • 4

    hampton

    Blocking a flu virus with a cheap gauze mask is like blocking oncoming water with a fishing net. They are worse than useless. Hot stuffy offices, toilets on subways and JR with no soap, and not covering the mouth when sneezing are real issues, but the belief that you can go to work with the flu and not spread it because of a mask helps the epidemic spread. People are at their most infectious before they even have strong symptoms anyway.

  • 0

    smithinjapan

    ecuator: "@smithinjapan seems to be under the mistaken impression that the product named Air Doctor is a mask. It is not."

    In any case, I'm quite sure it is just a gimmick to make money, and is completely ineffective. Same as the candies they call 'throat candy' (or throat drops), which is every candy under the sun. I still stand behind what I said about masks, though.

  • 0

    wipeout

    Smithinjapan seems to be under the mistaken impression that the product named Air Doctor is a mask. It is not.

    No. Apparently, it's a doctor.

  • 0

    wildwest

    I'm putting my faith in voodoo to keep it at bay and when I get it cute it. It's as good as anything if you eat right an so on. Plus it's fun sticking pins into (........) < insert name of person you don't like here.

  • 0

    sighclops

    Well don't make us sweat to death in the trains then, JR...

  • -2

    Frungy

    Here are some real tips to help prevent colds and flu this winter:

    1. Use a humidifier

    Right now most people are running the aircon or heater full blast, which dries out the air. It also dries out the mucus (snot) in your nose. This snot filters each breath you take a thousand times more effectively than any mask, capturing viruses in the mucus. But if the snot is dry this defense mechanism doesn't work. Also, in dry conditions most viruses develop a hard coating to stop themselves from losing moisture - this also makes them more difficult to kill. In humid conditions the protein coating around the virus is softer, making them easier for your body to identify and kill. As a final bonus, it'll keep your heating bills down because the water vapour in the air traps heat more effectively, compensating a little for the lack of insulation in Japanese apartments. Three good reasons to humidify. This doesn't need to be complex or expensive - a metal bowl of water on top of a gas heater is often good enough.

    1. Open the windows

    Most Japanese offices are open plan and quite close-packed. In winter the doors and windows are all sealed tightly to save on heating. Naturally you're now sharing the same air as a couple of dozen other people. If even one of them has a cold you're being exposed too. There are lots of ways to deal with this, such as making people go out for lunch and then ventilating the office for 30 minutes every day, or opening the windows a crack and pumping up the heating to compensate, or getting the boss to pay out for snuggies in corporate colours for everyone in the office (this may sound ridiculous, but when you consider the cost of even a couple of employees getting sick, plus the lower heating costs then this is a sensible and economic option).

    1. Keep warm

    Now we all know that being cold doesn't give you a cold, but being cold does result in the blood vessels constricting to prevent heat loss. This constriction interferes with your body's ability to bring white blood cells (and other immunocytes) to infected areas rapidly, which makes you more vulnerable to infection. If you're cold your body also diverts more energy to maintaining heat levels, which also isn't great in terms of viral defense. Layer up (thermal underwear, normal work-wear, a light sweater or waistcoat, jacket on top, then an overcoat or something similar for outdoors). This allows strip off layers (while still remaining decent) when you enter warmer office buildings and add layers when you go outside, and maintain an even body temperature.

    1. Take a multivitamin (one with vitamin D)

    Winter means less sunlight, which means less vitamin D. People tend to hit the vitamin C pretty hard (mikan, yusu, etc.) but that's not the problem, vitamin D is normally the culprit. Telling office workers to get more sun is likely to meet with scornful looks since most of you get into the office when its dark, work in an artificially light office all day, then go home when it is dark... and the old joke about "What do you call the 2 days of rain that follow 5 days of sunshine... the weekend!" means that office workers rarely get enough sunshine year-round, but winter is particularly bad. Be a little careful with vitamin D since too high doses can be toxic, but if you're feeling down then this is often the reason, and if you're feeling down not only are you depressed, but so is your immune system.

    Thanks for reading, and keep healthy.

  • 0

    taj

    last weekend a friend of mine was wearing a,... packet around her neck. Looked something like a descicant pack on a lanyard. At one point I asked her what it was. She said it's to purify the air of viruses so she doesn't get the flu. Two weeks early she had plunked down some sort of canister that was meant to do the same.

    Me: How does this work? Her: It clears the are in the immediate area. Me: Ok, but how? Her: They are very popular at nursery schools. Me: And at hospitals? Do doctors and nurses where them around their necks? Her: You can buy then at lots of places now. Me: (Ok then). So where should we have lunch.

    Is one of these items an "Air Doctor"?

    ....

  • 1

    Frungy

    tajFeb. 03, 2014 - 05:18PM JST last weekend a friend of mine was wearing a,... packet around her neck. Looked something like a descicant pack on a lanyard. At one point I asked her what it was. She said it's to purify the air of viruses so she doesn't get the flu. Two weeks early she had plunked down some sort of canister that was meant to do the same.

    Ring 'o ring 'o rosies, a pocket full of posies...

    Ahh, superstition doesn't change, and neither do suckers ;) .

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