With the latest flu variant engulfing Japan, hospitals are flooded not only with new patients but also former patients seeking medical certificates needed to prove full recovery to schools, employers and other institutions.

Although the health and education ministries issued a statement during the major flu outbreak in 2010 saying such documents were unnecessary, the custom remains deep-seated among schools.

To lighten the burden on both patients and hospitals, the Okinawa Prefectural Government, the area hit hardest by the flu last year, issued a statement this month calling on educational institutions not to request recovery certificates.