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Okinawa feeling impact of early flu season cases

Date Posted: 2007-12-14

Influenza patients are streaming into hospitals and clinics across Japan, an earlier than expected start to the flu season.

The National Institute of Infectious Diseases says Hokkaido is already being inundated with cases, but noted Okayama and Okinawa are being hit hard, as well. More than 7,162 people showed up at the nationís 4,700 hospitals and clinics this past week, a sharp rise from the 4,415 new flu patients a week earlier. Officials say this is the earliest start to the flu season since 1987.

Hokkaido registered 12.64 patients per facility last week, while Okayama at 3.82 patients and Okinawa with 3.28 patients were enough to raise eyebrows at the National Institute. Hyogo and Wakayama Prefectures each recorded 3.04 patients per medical facility.

A total of 439 Nursery schools, kindergartens, elementary and junior high schools were closed in the entire month of November as flu cases were reported. Last week, the number rose to 225, a signal that the flu is circulating more widely.

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