1st new-flu case in Tokyo confirmed; infections number 263 in Japan

TOKYO —

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.

Wire reports

  • 0

    bamboohat

    The 236 infected people include four people who were found to have the new flu during an onboard inspection at Narita airport on their arrival from Canada via the United States earlier this month.

    Note the source, "Wire Report" (aka international standard journalism) reports "via the United States." all the kyodo based news reports screamed "From The United States." This report also mentions that the four were already discharged from the hospital, and that another one mentioned is recovering and is taking medication at home. Note the difference between and objective reporting of facts, versus sensationalist journalism.

    This internationally sourced article also points out the global numbers, 10,000 infected in 43 countries with 83 dead, or .83 percent fatality rate.

    Kind of put the mask craze into perspective.

  • 0

    notimpressed

    It would be great to see the percentage of deaths that were of the elderly or infirm.

  • 0

    EUgirl

    236 now.

  • 0

    EUgirl

    bamboohat: All the Japanese-language reporting that I saw talked about the 4 first cases having been in Canada. Maybe the gaijin who does the translating is to blame?

  • 0

    smithinjapan

    As I said around the end of GW, if/when this hits Japan it will spread like wild-fire. This is simply a fact due to the extremely high population density of Japan, and in particular in public settings.

    Events are rightfully being cancelled (ex. Kobe Festival), but the rest of the 'quaratine' efforts are useless and largely negated by politics and/or bureacracy. For example, most junior highschools and highschools (and universities) in Japan are closed, but elementary schools for the most part remain open. Why? No, not because children cannot contract and spread the virus -- we all know the loveable little lads and lasses are bacteria traps come flu season -- but because local governments have deemed it is troublesome for parents to stay home and take care of kids, whereas the aforementioned junior highschool and older can take care of themselves.

    Anyway, too late for any hardcore efforts, and once this hits Tokyo, and it will, Japan is easily going to outrank all other countries for domestic spread. Efforts now need to be focussed on avoiding the already underway public panic, and treatment. Shutting the country down now will do nothing, though those who are very ill should be encouraged and given the time to recover at home.

  • 0

    kidoave

    This New Flu Infection outbreak in Western Japan, particularly Kobe and Osaka were caused by NOT detecting at the Kansai Airport or other International Airport in Western Japan. The first persons who submitted themselves did not went outside of Japan but got the flu because they got infected by the persons who went outside of Japan (who surfaces later). This is due to lack of strong health enforcement in Western Japan Airports, the Administrative Officers in Kansai and Nagoya Airport should resign!

  • 0

    smithinjapan

    kidoave: "This New Flu Infection outbreak in Western Japan, particularly Kobe and Osaka were caused by NOT detecting at the Kansai Airport or other International Airport in Western Japan."

    How are earth do you detect it in non-symptomatic people? The only way it could even be possible is to quarantine -- and by that I mean not allow to leave the airport -- each and EVERY single person who went overseas, or those coming from overseas, and test their blood. Even then you're not going to find anything in people who just contracted it because the blood wouldn't have developed any anti-bodies, and the virus will hardly have multiplied.

    So, what should they have done? This was inevitable, and that's all there is to it. The only thing they could have done was shut the country down completely for a period of about two months while it ran rampant everywhere else -- no imports, no travel whatsoever. In other words, nothing realistic.

  • 0

    KnowBetter

    Well 236 today and I'll place money on it going higher tomorrow and the next day and so on. Let's keep raising those numbers so people will start dying of fear.

    You know, if I was thinking of making some quick cash over this whole media circus I'd buy stock of 3M and whomever makes that Tamiflu stuff but then again that would be just plain wrong to profit from this man-made fear frenzy campaign. Just plain wrong.

  • 0

    GJDailleult

    kidoave- you want to explain exactly how the Administrative Officers were supposed to detect the virus in people not yet showing symptoms, short of quarantining every single person arriving in Japan?

  • 0

    Himajin

    ESP! Japanese officials are obviously ESP-deficient!

  • 0

    terebiko

    Regarding the schools being closed, the reports on the news were just what I thought would happen. All of those kids that are out of school, are walking around town, going to game centers and karaoke, some even in their school uniforms. One kid was asked why he wasn't staying at home, and he replied, naturally, there was nothing to do at home. So basically the intent of keeping kids from being in contact with other kids, which I think the school closure meant to do, may have a negative effect on the situation. We have to remember, this is Japan, not Mexico, so I think it would be hard to use the tough methods they used in Mexico here or in the US. Imagine trying to cancel sports events and close restaurants in Japan or the US like they did down south. Riots.

  • 0

    GJDailleult

    About the elderly and infirm fatality percentage question, after a little searching I can't find the exact number, but it must be very, very low. As of yesterday, 72 of the 79 deaths were in Mexico, and of the first 45, 84% were in the 20 to 54 age group. Also, more than half of those hospitalized in the USA are between 5 and 24. So for anybody figuring H1N1 is an old folks problem and not theirs, sorry but not true.

  • 0

    EUgirl

    smithinjapan: Contrary to what you claim, not all schools in Japan are closed, only schools in Kobe, Osaka and Hyogo prefecture, plus some voluntary closings of Kyoto schools. And they did close elementary schools too in the infected areas - yesterday they interviewed several mothers on TV, who had elementary school kids staying at home, one mother saying she has problems of finding somebody to take care of her kids when she goes to work etc. So why did you invent the claim that in Osaka/Kobe/Ibaraki they did not close down elementary schools?

    Masuzoe just said on TV to an Osaka politician that you should keep your youth home and not running around America mura.

  • 0

    smithinjapan

    EUgirl: "Contrary to what you claim, not all schools in Japan are closed, only schools in Kobe, Osaka and Hyogo prefecture, plus some voluntary closings of Kyoto schools."

    Nowhere did I claim ALL SCHOOLS IN JAPAN. I apologize that I didn't clarify that I was referring to the infected area, but it's pretty clear that Japan has more than 4000 schools nation-wide, and that those that are closed are only in the infected areas. What's more, I mentioned Kobe in the previous sentence in regards to the events being shut down... do you also think Kobe is Japan-wide?

    Regardless of your reading too much into something in this case, the result is still the same; in areas where the schools are closed, it is simply political/bureaucratic, and even THEN you still have the kids outdoors and gathering in crowded places out of boredom.

  • 0

    Den Den

    So close the schools...hmmm. I hear that Karoake joints are packed with these kids. All confined in small booths with little or no ventilation, sharing drinks and spitting on the mic they all share...

  • 0

    notimpressed

    GJDaileult: thanks for the info. Im just tryingto get my head around how dangerous this strain of teh flu is compared to the run of the mill flu. Also some ethnicities have been shown to be more susceptible to certain viruses, in that their immune system is not equiped to recover from it. Do people still occasionally die form regular flu or is it just this one that is a step ahead of human imuno-resistence?
    I also wonder how much of a point there is fighting nature, when there willalways be a new bug, a new disaster, a new something to take us bigger vertabrits down a peg or two. How about we genetically modify the crap out of our sytems to waste anything we may catch, instead of trying to figure out each and every bug that pops it head up at a time..? Yeah I know...

  • 0

    stirfry

    as soon as they print an updated number, it becomes obsolete

  • 0

    ilcub76

    ESP! Japanese officials are obviously ESP-deficient!

    No, there are plenty of ESP here -- Extra Stupid Politicians.

  • 0

    kyoken

    We only need some related death in Japan and the panic will surface.

  • 0

    DickMorris

    Hey! How can this spread when the Japanese use those fantastic anti virus masks? Tee Hee!

  • 0

    smithinjapan

    I'm going to start a brand of 'anti-flu throat candies'. Of course, they'll just be regular throat candies, but the NAME will be 'anti-flu candy'. Oh, and I'll also say they're full of C0-Q 10 and minus ions. Ought to make a bundle.

  • 0

    dennis0bauer

    one could make a bundle now with ant mexican flu masks

  • 0

    MagnusGarstin

    One wealthy Japanese woman I know is desperately trying to get her son shipped abroad to a university the UK where she feels it's "safer" because of the rising numbers of flu-infected Japanese. Apparently, her fears were exacerbated by a "doctor friend of the family who is a virus expert" (every home should have one) who predicts that the H1N1 strain will mutate beyond recognition over summer and then triumphantly re-emerge in autumn, immune to all vaccines, to kill thousands in Japan.

  • 0

    Ah_so

    One wealthy Japanese woman I know is desperately trying to get her son shipped abroad to a university the UK where she feels it's "safer" because of the rising numbers of flu-infected Japanese.

    But many Japanese are still cancelling trips abroad, despite it clearly now being safer abroad than in Japan!

  • 0

    kirakira25

    A friend of a friend cancelled her two week trip to Chicago last week because of swine flu. BTW she is from Kobe....!

  • 0

    EUgirl

    It is good that Japanese are cancelling foreign trips, so as not to pass the virus to some new country.

  • 0

    Bento

    i think they are more likely to be canceling the trip so as not to catch swine flu. go for it smith..you will make a bundle as long as it says made in Japan on them.

  • 0

    DeepAir65

    Do people still occasionally die form regular flu or is it just this one that is a step ahead of human imuno-resistence?

    tens of thousands die each year from seasonal flu. Actually I believe the fatality rate so far is less than normal flu and it is reported that symptoms in previously fit people are quite slight compared to what was going round in Feb/March.

    My sons school only want to know if a fever is above 38 and a lot of the articles suggest people have it with fevers of less than 38.

    Outside of Mexico most fatalities have come from people with underlying chronic illnesses.

    At the moment the problem with this strain is how easily it is passed on and for sure it will be in Kanto soon.

  • 0

    Himajin

    My husband called me tonight, his meetings scheduled for the weekend in Tokyo have been canceled. That was quick!

    The flu was bad this year, I got it in March for the first time in about 10 years, I couldn't shake the fever for eight days, although it lowered a bit in that time. This seems to be less severe, from the accounts I've seen.

  • 0

    kenchan

    hmmm are these really fully fully confirmed cases? why is the Japanese rate of infection so much more than in the UK and Spain where the first cases happened before Japan, but both currently have half the cases that Japan does!

    I smell panic in the air....

  • 0

    Bento

    probably because there is more coverage in the press in Japan and as a consequence there will be a higher testing rate, resulting in more cases found rather than going undetected,most people with flu in the uk go to bed till they get better and never present themselves to a medical professional.

  • 0

    Weasel

    ...to get her son shipped abroad to a university the UK where she feels it's "safer"...

    You'd think if that was the logic, she'd send her kid to either the Middle East or most of the continent of Africa. No reported or suspected cases of pig-flu there - yet. Guess they cant go there - no Harold's for shopping.

  • 0

    Disillusioned

    The four—three high school students and a teacher from Osaka—have already been discharged from hospitals in Chiba Prefecture.

    Gees! I wonder how the virus got to Tokyo? It was inevitable and it will spread throughout Japan quickly. The trains will see to that. People are really freaked out by this only adding more anxiety to the already borderline anxiety levels. It is a bad flu and not deadly if treated properly, but if you talk to someone about it, it's as if it is the return of the black plague or leprosy. Chill out people! Anxiety kills many more people than the flu ever would. - Nearly 15 minutes of tonight's 25 minute news broadcast was devoted to this flu. Get a grip Japan!

  • 0

    noborito

    It's spreading here because no one knows how to cover their mouths properly and are spreading the illness like pigs in a pigpen.

  • 0

    MagnusGarstin

    Gees! I wonder how the virus got to Tokyo?

    If this was pre-Meiji period they'd be blaming either the gaijin or burakumin. Nowadays, it's probably the gaijin who get blamed for spreading it and ...who cares if the burakumin catch it?

    (Yes, I know they they don't officially exist any more - so why do Japanese companies still screen applicants to determine if they come from burakumin stock?)

  • 0

    smithinjapan

    Bento: "probably because there is more coverage in the press in Japan and as a consequence there will be a higher testing rate, resulting in more cases found rather than going undetected,most people with flu in the uk go to bed till they get better and never present themselves to a medical professional."

    While I've no doubt that's part of it, I think you'll find the greater reason is simply, as I've said, population density. Tokyo has 36 million people in one small area... compare that to average number of people per square kilometer in the UK and Spain and you'll see at least a rate of several hundred times higher. That much concentration makes prevention impossible -- doesn't matter how hard you try.

  • 0

    EUgirl

    The Tokyo person returned yesterday from U.S. No connection to the Osaka cases.

    I think in Japan it spreads faster than in Spain or UK, as in those two countries most cases are on travelers returning from Mexico, whereas here it is an inside the country -epidemic.

  • 0

    northlondon

    You'd think if that was the logic, she'd send her kid to either the Middle East or most of the continent of Africa. No reported or suspected cases of pig-flu there - yet. Guess they cant go there - no Harold's for shopping.

    It's called Harrods matey. But maybe in the Middle East or Africa it's called Harold's.

  • 0

    Bento

    Smith-there is no doubt that the population density is a major reason.. on another topic and one the moderator seems less than pleased with, do you remember the uk 13 year old boy who was in the papers for being the father of his girlfriends baby(maybe 3 months ago)..well as of yesterday he is officially not the father after the court ruled the results of the paternity test be made public..i have been trying to convince the moderator to publish this new information as they had helped to pedal the original myth..so far no luck.Probably not interested in balanced journalism just in creating talking points real or imagined.

  • 0

    EUgirl

    There are actually two girls in Tokyo with the pig flu.

  • 0

    Den Den

    263 out of 120,000,000 people with a bit of fever. What's that as a fraction?

  • 0

    rekka

    I've heard reports from my girlfriend whos Japanese and obviously watches TV and a few ALTs in Kawasaki, where I also work that Kawasaki also has the flu too. So yay!

  • 0

    pinpon66

    During fall and winter this virus could become a serious problem. It will spread more easily and could mutate becoming more dangerous.

  • 0

    pointofview

    This flu is becoming like the damaged economy. First, Speculators ruin the global economy with their scare tactics and now the media frenzy behind this flu is making everyone freak out. Man! this world is so messed up.

  • 0

    Momotarou

    263 out of 120,000,000 people with a bit of fever. What's that as a fraction?

    like .000022 %

  • 0

    Himajin

    Tamiflu and Relenza both work.

  • 0

    EUgirl

    Rekka: I think one of the Hachioji koukou girls lives in Kawasaki or opposite...Kawasaki koukou girl who lives in Hachioji...

  • 0

    USAkuma

    I think the main point of all this is that now that it has shown its ugly head here in the Tokyo area, it will complete its spread throughout Japan so long as people on crowded trains continue sneezing and coughing openly without any consideration to others around them.

    Not so many years ago, people here were more considerate of each other, but those days have passed and consideration went the way of the dodo bird. So they will reap what they have sewn. Maybe they'll start learning politeness and manners again. like covering your mouth when you sneeze or cough.

    maybe.

  • 0

    neverknow2

    It's spreading here because no one knows how to cover their mouths properly and are spreading the illness like pigs in a pigpen.

    100% AGREED

    100% AGREED

    100% AGREED

    100% AGREED

    100% AGREED

  • 0

    telecasterplayer

    Where in the US were these Japanese teens hanging out? My family lives in one of the supposedly hardest-hit areas of the US, and no one knows of anybody with h1n1. That includes old folks, grubby teenagers, adults who work in public service.

  • 0

    KnowBetter

    "Den Den at 11:50 PM JST - 20th May

    263 out of 120,000,000 people with a bit of fever. What's that as a fraction?"

    WOW, around 7 million have already died or left Japan already? Last I heard Japan has around 127 million people NOT 120 million.

  • 0

    XXXXX

    This can't be the first.

  • 0

    tigerguy

    It's spreading here because no one knows how to cover their mouths properly and are spreading the illness like pigs in a pigpen.

    I agree with you 100%. I've witnessed people on the trains coughing and sneezing openly like it was their duty to spread their dirty germs around. I've also seen people excavating their noses and then wiping it onto the train seats. They should wear a mask and be more considerate.

  • 0

    Fadamor

    The U.S. says the disease is hitting obese people harder than people of normal weight. Not sure why...

  • 0

    XXXXX

    in other words, there'll be more cases in the USA than in other countries...

  • 0

    kenchan

    smith> yr rationale would make sense if the Japanese contagion was in Tokyo, but its been in Osaka and that has about the same population as London. Plus I would consider London transport to be one of the most dirty systems in the developed world. It is infested with mice everywhere and I make sure I wash my hands after coming off the northern line.

    Bento is probably right about higher checks rates in Japan...but only because getting an appointment at yr local GP in the UK is a nightmare...you'll be over yr flu by the time you can get an appointment..I kid u not people!

  • 0

    IvanCoughalot

    I've witnessed people on the trains coughing and sneezing openly like it was their duty to spread their dirty germs around. I've also seen people excavating their noses and then wiping it onto the train seats. They should wear a mask and be more considerate.

    Tigerguy - you use the Chiyoda Line too, eh? There was a ridiculous old battleaxe in Kita-Senju last evening sneezing her wig off every five seconds without even a gesture of covering her mouth, then she glowered at me like it was my fault. She very nearly got mooned.

    It sickens me to see these halitosic Toshis knuckle-deep in their own sinus every day. And then, when they finally get something, they have a good look at it. What do they expect to find up there?

    "This could be it! The Koh-in-Noor diamond! Got it! Let me count my riches...oh no, just another bogey. Better wipe it on the seat. Oh, my stop..."

    Then he gets hold of the handrail and gets off the train, holding the escalator rail or pushing the button on the lift. Next passenger uses the lift, and carries Toshi's bogey into his own office.

    Oh, I wonder why it's spreading?

    a) No soap in washrooms (parks, public buildings and public transport) b) No idea of even rudimentary public hygiene.

    But never mind, I'm wearing a mask like I've seen people around me do, so I'll follow suit and regardless of how useless the mask is in terms of disease control, it will act as a talisman against evil.

    Utterly disgusting, these people.

  • 0

    MagnusGarstin

    Hi Ivan, most of the foul characters I've been unfortunate enough to witness plumbing the depths of their nasal cavities on a train have at least had the decency to eat it after rolling it around for a while. In this way, I suppose that they are actively stopping the spread of germs by bravely ingesting their own grey and khaki "flubber-lumps". I offered one a tissue once but he got most offended as I had obviously negated his supreme goodwill gesture toward world hygiene. Stupid me.

  • 0

    Yelnats

    I have never seen anyone wipe their boogers on a train seat in 25 years. Most people that cough and sneeze are wearing masks, and it is due to pollen and also not to spread colds.

  • 0

    kenchan

    its funny when I read people's compliants about the worsening behaviour of Japanese in public places like trains....I don't disagree but relatively the Japanese are still way more polite than western countries like the UK, US, France etc...It will be another 5 to 10 years before Japan even comes close to being as rude and aggressive as the public in the west.

    Therefore, the argument that the Japanese are spreading the virus alot because of their rude coughing is a false assumption imho.

  • 0

    IvanCoughalot

    Kenchan - how often to you see - or more likely hear - Toshi hacking up the contents of his bronchioles and gobbing it out into the street or station platform?

    For me, it's a daily occurrence. Sickening in every sense of the word, and the mucosa expelled is home sweet home to the influenza virus.

    And there seems to be an unwritten law in this country that once you reach the age of 45, you are exempt from the public courtesy of covering your mouth when you cough, sneeze or yawn.

    Maybe this isn't spreading the virus yet, as it may not be human-to-human airborne - yet. But it certainly isn't going to help anything, and it is a sign of abysmal manners.

  • 0

    nandakandamanda

    Glad they gave us the symptoms and how to spot it.

    Some of my students have had bright red faces and streaming colds but they are unwilling to leave the classroom even when I suggest they should.

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