1st new-flu case in Tokyo confirmed; infections number 263 in Japan
The first cases of the new strain of H1N1 influenza were confirmed both in Tokyo and Shiga Prefecture on Wednesday, bringing the tally of infections in the country to 263 along with other cases in Hyogo and Osaka prefectures in western Japan.
The person confirmed infected in Tokyo is a 16-year-old girl in Hachioji, western Tokyo, who has a record of recently visiting the United States, officials of the metropolitan government said.
Meanwhile, a 23-year-old male student at Ritsumeikan University, who lives in Otsu, Shiga Prefecture, was confirmed as being infected with the new flu virus after visiting Kobe, Hyogo Prefecture, from Friday to Monday, the Shiga prefectural government said.
The private university said it will temporarily close its campus in Kusatsu, Shiga Prefecture, where the student attends classes.
Health, Labor and Welfare Minister Yoichi Masuzoe told a press conference Wednesday that detailed examinations, called polymerase chain reaction analysis, will continue to be conducted for all those suspected of being infected with the new flu.
Newly confirmed cases were also reported in Osaka and Hyogo prefectures, including a 25-year-old female medical clerk working at a hospital in Kobe, Hyogo, which is designated to diagnose and treat people with infectious diseases, the local authority said.
Osaka, Hyogo and Shiga prefectures are located in western Japan.
The city office of Otsu decided to shut elementary and junior high schools plus kindergartens that it runs for seven days, and the Shiga government followed suit for all high schools that it runs.
In Kobe, medical institutions other than nine designated hospitals for treating people with fever, or potentially infected people, began handling such cases, as the surge in new-flu infections pushed the capacity of the institutions to the limit.
Osaka Gov Toru Hashimoto said his government will review the blanket closure of schools in the prefecture.
The moves by Kobe and Osaka Prefecture suggest that they are taking measures under phase 3 of the central government’s anti-epidemic action program, which assumes the flu is widespread. The central government is maintaining phase 2, which refers to an early stage of a domestic outbreak.
According to the Shiga government, the infected student stayed at the home of relatives in Kobe from Friday, developed a fever of more than 38 C and a cough on Sunday night, returned to Shiga on Monday morning and attended a morning class on the campus in the city of Kusatsu.
The student, who lives alone in Otsu, saw a doctor Tuesday evening at a hospital run by Otsu city and tested positive in a detailed examination, but he has almost recovered after taking Tamiflu, with his temperature falling to around 36 C, although he remains hospitalized in an Otsu hospital.
‘‘The prefectural government will do everything to prevent a further spread of infection,’’ Shiga Gov. Yukiko Kada told reporters after attending a meeting of its task force in the morning.
According to Kobe City Medical Center General Hospital, where the infected female clerk works, the likelihood that the woman contracted the disease from patients is low because she developed flu symptoms on May 13, before the hospital began accepting new-flu patients.
But the center prohibited visits to inpatients after the woman became infected, it said.
The first domestic infection of the new H1N1 strain of influenza was confirmed Saturday in a high school student in Kobe with no record of recent travel abroad, a week after four people were found May 9 to have the flu on their arrival at Narita airport from Canada via the United States.
The four—three high school students and a teacher from Osaka—have already been discharged from hospitals in Chiba Prefecture.
As of Wednesday evening Japan time, more than 10,300 people in 43 countries and territories were confirmed as having been infected with the new flu, with 83 dead in Mexico, the United States, Canada and Costa Rica. The tally in Japan is the fourth largest in the world.