Influenza wave drastically wanes in Japan amid spread of coronavirus
Japan Times -- Feb 21
A wave of influenza has been significantly waning in Japan compared with last year, government data has shown, as many people have become wary of infection with a new pneumonia-causing coronavirus.

For the week through Feb. 9, the number of reported influenza cases plunged more than 60 percent from a year earlier to 44,737, according to the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare. During the same period last year, 129,989 cases were reported.

The health ministry also said the number of schools that were forced to close classes due to influenza outbreaks was 1,760 for the seven days from Feb. 3, sharply down from 3,204 in the same week of 2019.

The new COVID-19 coronavirus, first detected late last year in the central Chinese city of Wuhan, has so far infected more than 70,000 people and killed over 2,000. The city is a major business and transportation hub with a population of some 11 million.

In Japan, daily media reports have focused the situation on the Diamond Princess, a coronavirus-hit cruise ship docked in Yokohama, prompting many citizens to wash their hands, gargle, wear masks and avoid crowds.

“Many Japanese people have become serious about taking measures to prevent infection with the new coronavirus. This might be one of the reasons why influenza cases dropped this year,” said Yoko Muramatsu, a researcher at the NLI Research Institute.

In Tokyo, masks and alcohol-based hand sanitizers have sold out at pharmacies and convenience stores, as medical experts have emphasized that preventive steps against the new coronavirus are similar to those against influenza and colds.

News source: Japan Times
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