Japan experiencing nationwide seasonal flu outbreak

Japan's health authorities are calling on people to take thorough steps against influenza as they say the seasonal flu epidemic has started across the country.

The health ministry said on Wednesday that about 5,000 medical institutions nationwide reported 6,103 flu cases during the seven-day period through December 25. That is up 3,511 from the previous week.

When the average per institution exceeds 1.0, it indicates the onset of an epidemic. The latest figure in the country stood at 1.24.

The average surpassed the threshold in 17 of Japan's 47 prefectures. Toyama topped the list at 4.21, followed by Okinawa with 2.91. Kanagawa had 2.79 and Tokyo 2.30.

This is the first time since 2020, the year of the first coronavirus outbreak in Japan, that the nationwide flu has begun to spread.

Health ministry officials are asking people to consider getting flu shots. They are also urging people to continue to carry out thorough measures, such as wearing masks appropriately, disinfecting and ventilating rooms.

In addition, the officials are calling on people to prepare test kits, antipyretics and painkillers in case they feel unwell.