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Face masks are popular, but medical officials stress ‘calm’

Date Posted: 2009-05-28

New influenza cases continue to crop up in mainland Japan, but at a lower rate than a couple weeks ago, but medical officials in Okinawa continue to caution residents to be calm and to be prepared.

The number of mainland Japan cases recorded May 20th was 77. The number of new cases a day later was only 27, and by May 22nd only 20 new cases were registered. Schools closed in Hyogo Prefecture have reopened, and people are beginning to venture out once more. Masks have proven popular across Japan, with pharmacies selling out.

Okinawa Prefecture health officials caution “Don’t be too confident with a mask. There is no reason to wear one if there’s no influenza. Masks should be left to those with influenza.” Citizens aren’t so agreeable to the advice; one parent said “I’m worried about getting an influenza infection and need to protect myself and family.” She said “I want to also send masks to my children who are living in mainland Japan.” A health official quietly urged people “Please be calm.”

Companies have purchased masks for workers, and drug stores report “all masks we had are sold out. Customer waited in front of shops in lines just to buy them.” The chief of the Prefecture Welfare Health Section is asking “Please don’t buy the masks just for safety. The masks should be left for sick people or patients. If you’re not sick, and you’re health, it is not necessary to buy a mask.”

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