No flu outbreak reported this season

NHK -- Feb 16
The number of patients with seasonal flu in Japan was below 100 during the first seven days of February. That's far below the levels seen before.

The health ministry says this is the first time an influenza outbreak has not been reported at this time of year since the present survey method was introduced in 1999.

The National Institute of Infectious Diseases and others say about 5,000 designated medical institutions around the country reported a total of 98 influenza cases in the week through February 7. The figure is up by 34 from the week earlier.

The cases were reported in Tokyo and 20 other prefectures, or less than half of Japan's prefectures.

The number of flu patients nationwide for this period is estimated to total about 1,000, and the number of cases since last fall is thought to total 12,000.

A nationwide influenza outbreak is defined as a situation in which the weekly average number of patients exceeds one per designated medical institution. The number currently stands at only 0.02.

Usually, seasonal flu peaks at this time of year, with the number of flu patients per week ranging between 100,000 and 200,000 people.

Taniguchi Kiyosu, head of clinical research at the National Mie Hospital, attributed this low level of flu cases to efforts by everyone to prevent coronavirus infections.

He said it's hard to think that the number of flu patients would increase to the level of an outbreak, but if person-to-person contact increases, the number of flu patients may increase.

He said it's necessary to continue prevention measures, while continuing to watch the infection situation.