National / Science & Health

Number of flu patients in Japan falls after outbreak hits peak

JIJI

The number of influenza patients per medical institution in Japan in the week through Feb. 3 dropped from the previous week in all of the nation’s 47 prefectures, the health ministry announced.

The average number of flu patients at some 5,000 regularly monitored medical institutions across the country fell to 43.24 from the preceding week’s 57.09, which marked the highest level since the survey started in April 1999, the ministry said Friday.

The total number of flu patients in the country in the week is estimated at some 1,669,000, down by some 557,000 from the previous week.

The decline signals that the peak of the outbreak has passed. But a ministry official said that the patient number is “still high, so attention is needed.”

The average number of patients per institution topped the alarm level of 30 in all 47 prefectures except Gifu, Wakayama and Kumamoto.

Saitama saw the highest average, at 65.68, followed by Niigata, at 62.51, Miyagi, at 58.77, Chiba, at 56.89, and Oita, at 52.14.

Of flu viruses detected in patients in the past five weeks, type-A Hong Kong strain accounted for the majority for the first time this season, at 53 percent, followed by type A, which spread globally as a new type in 2009, at 46 percent, and type B, at 1 percent.