As suspicions mounted Friday in Yokohama that a new type of flu had finally landed in Japan, schools began drafting worst-case scenarios and measures to prevent its spread.
Nihon University, which has a student body of about 80,000 spread across campuses from Tokyo, Kanagawa and Chiba to Fukushima and Shizuoka prefectures, has instructed teachers and students to refrain from travel to Mexico and other places where the new swine-avian-human flu has been detected.
“If he or she must make the trip, we will ban the person from coming to school for seven days after returning to Japan,” a university official said.
If a case of so-called swine flu is confirmed in Japan, the university plans to shut down.
Many other universities are asking students and teachers to refrain from traveling overseas for now.
Kumamoto Gakuen University in Kumamoto ordered 11 exchange students in the United States, Canada and New Zealand to return to Japan. It may also issue the same order to those in other countries.
“It was a difficult decision to make,” said a public relations official at Kumamoto Gakuen. “But we thought it best to prioritize the safety of our students.”
Calls flood Yokohama
Yokohama City Hall was flooded with calls Friday from worried citizens following reports Thursday that a 17-year-old local boy had tested positive for the new type A influenza that first was spotted in Mexico.
Later in the day, further tests revealed that the high school student has Soviet A-type influenza rather than the new H1N1 flu strain.
“We’ve been rushed off our feet with calls from people worried they have symptoms of swine flu,” said Jun Shuri, head of Yokohama’s health security division.
“They also want to know where the student lives, maybe because they don’t want to go near there, and they want to know when his diagnosis is going to be confirmed,” he said.
Noting the apparent panic mode, Shuri said he wanted citizens to remain calm and seek medical treatment if they suspect infection.
“If they’re coming from abroad and they think they may have symptoms of swine flu, I want them to go to a fever consultation center, which will refer them to a hospital if they’re likely to be infected,” he said, referring to term first applied to the new virus.
In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.