No. of flu patients rises in Japan with 1.24 mil reported in a week – Nationwide
An estimated 1.24 million people in Japan, mainly in southwestern and western areas, caught influenza in the first week of January, up from around 1.01 million the previous week, a state-run institute said Tuesday. The Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare said the season’s peak is expected from late January to February and called on the public to wear masks or cover their mouths with a handkerchief so as not to spread flu through sneezing or coughing.
The estimate was calculated by the National Institute of Infectious Diseases based on the number of patients reported by some 5,000 clinics across Japan. The average number of patients per medical institution in Japan stood at 16.31, according to the tally. By prefecture, Miyazaki had the highest number of flu patients per institution with 34.17, followed by Okinawa with 31.76, Oita with 28.93, Fukuoka with 28.14 and Nagasaki with 26.04. They are all in southwestern or southern regions of the country.
The most common of the viruses detected in the last five weeks was the new type-A influenza that caused a pandemic in 2009, according to the institute. A delay in flu vaccine production this season has caused a shortage, prompting a group of doctors to seek measures by the government. But the health ministry has said the necessary amount of vaccine can be secured by restricting people aged 13 and above to taking only a single shot.
If infected, elderly people are likely to develop severe symptoms and children could suffer from acute encephalitis in rare cases. Washing hands, disinfecting with alcohol, keeping high humidity and refraining from going to crowded places are said to be effective precautionary measures.
Boy walks on shinkansen track for 4 km, disrupting service – Osaka
A boy appearing to be elementary school age was found walking on tracks of the Sanyo shinkansen line in western Japan on Saturday, disrupting bullet train services, the train operator said. West Japan Railway Co said a station worker noticed a person entered the tracks at Okayama Station around 4:40 p.m., and about 70 minutes later the boy was taken into protective custody at a spot around 4 kilometers east of the station. JR West suspended high-speed train operations between Shin-Osaka and Higashi-Hiroshima because of the intrusion, causing up to a 90 minute delay.
Body of 3-year-old Fukui boy missing since Dec 9 found at river edge – Fukui
The body of a child which was found Friday at the edge of a river in Sakai, Fukui Prefecture, has been identified as that of a three-year-old boy who has been missing since Dec 9. Police said Saturday that a DNA test identified the boy as Ren Tanaka who disappeared from his father’s car in a parking lot in Echizen on the afternoon of Dec 9, Fuji TV reported.
The body was found about 35 kilometers away among thickets at the edge of the Kuzuryu River by a fisherman at around 9:50 a.m. Friday. Police said the boy was wearing a green long-sleeved hooded jacket, long pants and sneakers, which matched the clothing Ren was wearing when he disappeared. Police said there were no signs of external injuries on the body and believe the boy’s death was an accident. Medical examiners said the boy died of either drowning or hypothermia.
Ren was last seen at around 2 p.m. on Saturday Dec 9, when his father, Ryoji, left him in the car in the parking lot of his office building. He was away from the car for about 10 minutes. When he came back, his son was gone. Tanaka told police his son had been sitting in the front passenger seat with his seat belt fastened, but that he did not lock the car doors. The river near the parking lot where the car was parked has no fences or barriers. Due to rain that day, the water level had risen and the current was strong. Police believe Ren may have gotten out of the car and walked to the river where he fell in and was swept away.