ArrowArtboardCreated with Sketch.Title ChevronTitle ChevronEye IconIcon FacebookIcon LinkedinIcon Mail ContactPath LayerIcon MailPositive ArrowIcon PrintTitle ChevronIcon Twitter
Health Care

Common flu patients in Japan fall to 10-year low late-January

Authorities say coronavirus fears have improved personal hygiene

A child receives influenza vaccination at a hospital in Tokyo. (Photo by Tomoki Mera)

TOKYO/NEW YORK -- Japan saw the lowest number of flu patients late-January in roughly 10 years, in part due to preventive measures against the Wuhan coronavirus that has spread throughout the world, authorities said.

The National Institute of Infectious Diseases said that 18 patients per clinic tested positive for common influenza at around 5,000 hospitals and clinics in Japan between Jan. 20 and Jan. 26. This was the lowest number since 6.46 were recorded in a week in 2010.

"The ministry started disclosing the coronavirus outbreak in China since the start of the year and telling people to take preventive measures, including washing hands and wearing surgical masks," said an official at the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare. "[The decline in the number of influenza patients] may be a reflection that personal hygiene has increased."

Japanese authorities have also been on high alert since early November when the number of flu patients per clinic exceeded one, a month earlier than usual. By late December, the number of patients hit a 10-year-high, the second-highest level reached in the month over the last 10 years.

There were fears then of an outbreak when children returned to school in January but between Dec. 30 and Jan. 5, the number of patients dropped 9.31 from the week before to 13.93, falling far below the warning level of 30.

Based on information provided by pharmacies, the overall number of flu patients in Japan is still declining. However, this is not the case for some prefectures in western Japan. As of late January, the number of flu patients per clinic was 33.83 in Kochi Prefecture and 30.56 in Miyazaki prefecture, breaching the dangerous level.

The picture in the U.S. is also bleaker.

According to data from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of patients infected with common flu increased by 4 million in just a week through Jan. 25. More than 19 million in America have fallen ill with the flu so far this winter, including 180,000 who were hospitalized. About 10,000 Americans have died, including 68 children.

The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases estimates that the 2019-2020 flu season will be one of the worst in decades. Some 45 million Americans came down with the flu and 61,000 people died in the 2017-2018 season. The flu season usually starts around October and lasts through May after peaking in February.

Sponsored Content

About Sponsored Content This content was commissioned by Nikkei's Global Business Bureau.

You have {{numberArticlesLeft}} free article{{numberArticlesLeft-plural}} left this monthThis is your last free article this month

Stay ahead with our exclusives on Asia;
the most dynamic market in the world.

Stay ahead with our exclusives on Asia

Get trusted insights from experts within Asia itself.

Get trusted insights from experts
within Asia itself.

Try 1 month for $0.99

You have {{numberArticlesLeft}} free article{{numberArticlesLeft-plural}} left this month

This is your last free article this month

Stay ahead with our exclusives on Asia; the most
dynamic market in the world
.

Get trusted insights from experts
within Asia itself.

Try 3 months for $9

Offer ends October 31st

Your trial period has expired

You need a subscription to...

  • Read all stories with unlimited access
  • Use our mobile and tablet apps
See all offers and subscribe

Your full access to Nikkei Asia has expired

You need a subscription to:

  • Read all stories with unlimited access
  • Use our mobile and tablet apps
See all offers
NAR on print phone, device, and tablet media

Nikkei Asian Review, now known as Nikkei Asia, will be the voice of the Asian Century.

Celebrate our next chapter
Free access for everyone - Sep. 30

Find out more