The government formally revised and relaxed its guidelines for the H1N1 swine flu pandemic Friday by basically allowing every medical institution to treat flu patients and letting people with mild symptoms recuperate at home.
The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry also said the same day it will start producing a swine flu vaccine next month with an eye to starting inoculations in October, although it will require halting output of seasonal flu vaccines.
The revised guidelines, announced by health minister Yoichi Masuzoe in a morning press conference, also halt the counting of each infection and focus instead on early detection of group infections.
In anticipation of the pandemic’s second wave this fall, the guidelines are designed to swiftly find and treat patients with severe symptoms by involving all hospitals, in principle, and securing enough beds, ministry officials said.
Infections were near 750 as of Friday morning since the first cases were found May 9, but the symptoms have been milder than expected.
The ministry started revising the guidelines after the World Health Organization raised its flu alert to the highest level, Phase 6, and declared it a pandemic on June 11. The danger posed by the virus was described as moderate.
The ministry plans to adopt the new guidelines in stages in coordination with medical institutions, the officials said.
The government will no longer classify regions by extent of flu infection and will no longer force patients with mild symptoms to be hospitalized.
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