Confirmed infections of the new flu in Japan hit 162 as of Monday, with the confirmation of five new cases in Kobe.[according to the Yomiuri Shimbun …more here at Daily Yomiuri online…] while NHK TV news reported 164 cases on this morning’s news.
This morning’s Daily Yomiuri newspaper’s headlined “New flu continues to spread / Over 4,000 schools asked to close in Osaka, Hyogo prefectures” … the paper also mentioned that the number of people confirmed to be infected with the new strain of flu virus has reached 164. Other news articles suggest that the flu spread due to contact during a high school volleyball match (Sports tourney may have spread flu / Outbreak of new strain may have origins in high school volleyball meet) and that the majority of cases are teenagers so far (Japan swine flu cases surge, most are teenagers).
“We are issuing an epidemic warning,” Osaka Gov. Toru Hashimoto said at a news conference. But some chaos resulted at schools due to the late release of the announcement by the municipal government in Osaka to close to schools, since students had already left for school.”Schools, services struggling with flu / Firms with infected staff tell workers to stay home (May 19 Yomiuri Shimbun). Read about the school closures online “Flu outbreak forces school closure” The Yomiuri Shimbun, May. 18, 2009.
Osaka Gov. Toru Hashimoto on Sunday requested the temporary closure of all public and private schools, kindergartens, child care centers and day care institutions for the elderly at three cities in the prefecture, where cases of the new type of influenza have been confirmed.
The schools include all schools in Ibaraki, Toyonaka and Suita in the prefecture. Prefectural-run indoor facilities also will be shut. Private facilities where large numbers of people gather, such as movie theaters and sports facilities, will be asked to suspend operations. Events and functions organized by the prefectural government will be canceled.
In addition, the governor plans to ask the schools and kindergartens to keep tabs on the health of their students.
The measures, which are aimed at curtailing the spread of the infection, are expected to run from Sunday through Saturday, in principle.
After Kobe high school students were found to be infected with the new flu, the Kitakyushu Board of Education decided to ask 911 students and 69 teachers who have been staying in Kobe on school excursions since Tuesday not to attend school for seven days.
The suspension applies to eight municipally-run schools in Kitakyushu and is based on a law governing security and safety at schools. The measure will commence on the last day of their stay in Kobe.
Sports tourney may have spread flu / Outbreak of new strain may have origins in high school volleyball meet (May.18) The Yomiuri Shimbun
After high school students in Kobe and in Osaka Prefecture were confirmed infected with the new flu strain Saturday and Sunday, respectively, health officials suspect the infection spread through contacts at volleyball matches. ….
Among the eight from the Kobe high schools, five were members of a volleyball team. For that reason, the Kobe municipal government believed contact among the students at the site of a volleyball match led to the infection’s spread, and officials have begun an investigation.
The nation’s first domestic outbreak was confirmed among three students who attend the Hyogo prefectural government-run Kobe High School. One is a 17-year-old male senior who is a member of the volleyball team. Similarly, among the five female students who attend the prefectural government-run Hyogo High School who also were confirmed to have the new flu Saturday, four were volleyball team members.
On May 8, Kobe High School hosted a volleyball match against Hyogo High School. On May 10, Kobe High School also competed in a volleyball match against another prefectural-run high school, in Takasago in the prefecture.
On Saturday, two male and one female volleyball team members of the high school in Takasago tested positive for Type A influenza. Seiichi Sakurai, head of the Kobe Public Health and Welfare Bureau, said at a press conference: “We weren’t able to confirm [if the cases involve the new strain of influenza]. However, it can be presumed the student flu infections are due to close contact during the [volleyball] match.”
Domestic H1N1 flu cases increase to 42
Large outbreak hits schools in Osaka, Hyogo Japan Times, Monday, May 18, 2009
The number of domestic swine flu cases hit 42 on Sunday after 34 high school and college students as well as their family members and teachers in Osaka and Hyogo prefectures were confirmed to have been infected.
The confirmations followed the discovery Saturday of Japan’s first eight domestic infections of the new H1N1 flu in Hyogo. A World Health Organization expert said community-level transmission may have begun in Japan, which could lead the WHO to raise its new flu pandemic alert to the highest level of 6 from the current 5.
“We need to be fully prepared to prevent the further spread of infections,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Takeo Kawamura said.
Of the 34 newly confirmed infections, 11 were detected in Osaka and 23 in Hyogo. Local authorities said more than 1,000 schools ranging from kindergartens to high schools in the two prefectures have decided to suspend classes for varying periods.
In Osaka, 20 prefecture-run high schools in the cities of Suita, Toyonaka and Ibaraki, where infected high school students live, will be closed through Saturday.
The 42 infections exclude the four cases discovered earlier during onboard quarantine inspections at Narita International Airport among a group of students and teachers returning from a school trip to Canada. Of those four, two students and a teacher have been declared free of the flu and have been discharged from hospitals.
Local authorities in Osaka said the 11 cases detected there were connected to Kansai Okura Senior High School in the city of Ibaraki and none of the students had traveled overseas recently.
A total of 143 students of that school have been absent this month due to flulike symptoms such as fever. The private school said it will be closed from Monday through Saturday.
Many of the cases in Hyogo were linked to Kobe High School and Hyogo High School.
Osaka Gov. Toru Hashimoto, speaking at a hastily arranged meeting Sunday morning of local health officials, warned more confirmed cases were likely to follow.
“A lot of people were infected in a short period of time, and the virus is predicted to spread further,” he said.
The students at Kansai Okura High School developed a high fever between last Wednesday and Friday, just a few days after students in Kobe began feeling ill.
Officials are investigating a connection between the two schools that might explain why students at two locations some distance from each other became sick at roughly the same time.
Read the entire article here.
If you are at a loss about what to do, where to go if you think your child or your family have the flu, read What to do if you have the flu symptoms