Case numbers point to flu epidemic
The number of influenza patients is increasing rapidly and at a pace not usually seen so early in the year, suggesting the viral infection could become a nationwide epidemic soon, according to recently compiled data by the National Institute of Infectious Diseases.
The institute said around 5,000 medical institutions across the country reported having on average 0.56 patient in the week to Nov. 23, compared with 0.31 a week earlier.
It marks the second-highest reported incidence this time of year since 1987, the earliest year comparable data are available. The highest incidence was posted last year.
The institute said the yardstick will likely jump by 1 shortly, signaling a national epidemic.
By prefecture, the per-institute number of patients was the highest at 5.25 in Yamanashi, followed by 2.45 in Shimane, 1.56 in Wakayama and 1.51 each in Osaka and Hyogo, indicating flu is already raging in a broad range of the country.