Japan said that the average number of influenza patients designated medical institutions nationwide had hit warning levels at their fastest pace in 10 years, it was reported. The spread of flu cases reflects lowered influenza immunity after cases had dropped in recent years amid anti-infection measures implemented against the coronavirus pandemic, Japan Times reported citing health experts. The influenza virus is spreading about a month earlier than normal, they said.
Across almost 5,000 institutions, 166,690 patients had been reported in the week through December 10, averaging 33.72 people per facility, Japan's health minister said. This has surpassed the warning level of 30, it informed. During the same period, the National Institute of Infectious Diseases estimated that the number of patients nationwide totaled around 1,118,000.
Are Covid cases also rising in Japan at the same time?
Coronavirus cases have also been increasing for the third consecutive week, authorities said. This means both the virus could spread further as year-end and New Year's social gatherings take place in the country. School and class-specific closures have been required at 6,382 educational facilities nationwide in the week through Sunday, authorities have said.
Influenza outbreaks typically occur in the winter and the end of spring but this year saw an unusual increase in cases from August. Flu cases were also seen in October as they exceeded the advisory level for that month of 10 people per institution.
"Individual measures for preventing infection are the same as those for COVID-19, including getting vaccinated, wearing masks, and avoiding crowded places," Nobuhiko Okabe, head of the Kawasaki City Institute for Public Health, said.