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Companies are starting to give employees face masks and gargling solutions as fear continues to grow that a new type of influenza that hasn’t proven lethal outside of Mexico and its vicinity has infiltrated Japan.

Mori Building Co. is supplying face masks and antiseptic solutions to all employees to prevent them from catching the new flu, while Kose Corp. and Seven & I Holdings Co. are preparing to distribute such items, their officials said.

East Japan Railway Co. and Seibu Railway Co. are procuring masks amid rising demand in the transportation sector.

Other companies, including Lion Corp., Daiei Inc. and NEC Corp., are encouraging employees to gargle and wash their hands often, while electronics maker NEC is trotting out its infrared thermography imaging equipment to screen people for signs of fever.

Households are also taking preventive measures. Major supermarkets have noted a sharp increase in gargling solution and mask sales, with Daiei setting up “anti-flu sections” in most of its outlets.

Consumers are also starting to store instant noodles, mineral water and other provisions in case an outbreak spurs the government to ask people to stay at home.

Meanwhile, power companies and other utilities in the Tokyo metropolitan area are stepping up preparations to continue services even if an outbreak does happen.

Tokyo Gas Co., for example, might ask workers to stay in isolation at key places, such as gas plants and maintenance stations.

“We will take all possible measures as we provide a life line,” Tokyo Gas President Mitsunori Torihara said recently.

Tokyo Electric Power Co. also plans to secure enough manpower to maintain core operations, such as running power plants and procuring oil and other fuels, if the flu is detected, its officials said.

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