• Kyodo

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About 1.38 million people are estimated to have visited medical institutions across the country during a seven-day period in late December due to influenza, nearly double the estimate the previous week, the health ministry said Thursday.

Around 5,000 clinics and hospitals reported an average of 26.63 patients per institution from Dec. 22 to 28, the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry said, adding the number of patients is expected to peak roughly three weeks sooner than in the average year, though the current rate of increase is not out of the ordinary.

The ministry estimated that during the week, flu sufferers aged 10 and 14 numbered 270,000, while those aged between 5 and 9 numbered 260,000. There were an estimated 160,000 flu sufferers in their 30s and an estimated 130,000 in their 60s or older.

By prefecture, Saitama had 48.13 patients per institution, followed by Kanagawa with 35.86, Fukuoka with 35.79, Iwate with 34.17 and Nagasaki with 34.14.

The type-A Hong Kong strain was the most prevalent virus variety found in the recent five weeks.