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Cablegate: Mgsf01 December 3 Update On H1n1 Outbreak in Japan

VZCZCXRO5902
OO RUEHAST RUEHDH RUEHHM RUEHLN RUEHMA RUEHPB RUEHPOD RUEHSL RUEHTM
RUEHTRO
DE RUEHKO #2762/01 3370244
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 030244Z DEC 09
FM AMEMBASSY TOKYO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 7926
INFO RUEHZN/ENVIRONMENT SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY COLLECTIVE
RUEHME/AMEMBASSY MEXICO 0651
RUEHUL/AMEMBASSY SEOUL 8781
RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 2113
RUEHFK/AMCONSUL FUKUOKA 7708
RUEHNAG/AMCONSUL NAGOYA 4869
RUEHNH/AMCONSUL NAHA 0059
RUEHOK/AMCONSUL OSAKA KOBE 1519
RUEHKSO/AMCONSUL SAPPORO 8216
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 3612
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 8237
RHHMUNA/HQ USPACOM HONOLULU HI
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC
RUEHRC/USDA FAS WASHDC 8666
RUEAUSA/DEPT OF HHS WASHINGTON DC
RHMFIUU/DEPT OF HOMELAND SECURITY IA WASHINGTON DC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RHMFIUU/USFJ

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 TOKYO 002762

UNCLAS TOKYO

DEPT FOR OES/IHB AMBASSADOR LOFTIS
DEPT FOR EAP/J, EAP/EX, CA
USDA PASS TO APHIS, FAS FOR BURDETT
HHS PASS TO CDC
HHS FOR OGHA
DEPT PASS TO AID/GH/HIDN

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KFLU AEMR AESC CASC KFLO TBIO KSAF KPAO PREL PINR
AMGT, MG, EAGR, JA
SUBJECT: MGSF01 December 3 UPDATE ON H1N1 OUTBREAK IN JAPAN

REF: TOKYO 2445 and previous

TOKYO 00002762 001.2 OF 002


1. Summary: H1N1 continues to spread throughout Japan on the cusp
of the winter flu season. The National Institute of Infectious
Diseases (NIID) announced that an estimated 1.73 million people with
flu-like symptoms visited medical institutions across Japan from
November 16 to November 22, the latest reporting period. To date,
73 people in Japan have died from H1N1-related complications. NIID
estimates that 10.75 million Japanese have visited doctors for
flu-like symptoms since July, and most of these are assumed to have
been infected with H1N1. Inoculations of priority groups are
underway, with 4.5 million people vaccinated as of November 19, but
there have been confusing policy changes regarding foreign vaccine
and the number of shots needed. End Summary.


LATEST INFECTION FIGURES AND THEIR CONSEQUENCES
--------------------------------------------- ---

2. During the weeklong reporting period that ended on November 22,
the number of flu cases reported by a network of 5000 medical
institutions increased to 186,117 from 169,095 from the previous
reporting period. That translates to about 1.73 million new flu
patients nationwide. The total number of people estimated to have
been infected with H1N1 since July totals 10.75 million, lower than
some early expert predictions but still quite high as a percentage
of the total population. Approximately seventy percent of these
infections were children under 14 years of age. Seventy-three
people have died in Japan from H1N1 to date.

3. Based on data from a reporting network of 5000 hospitals and
clinics, Oita prefecture had the highest infection rate at nearly 77
patients per institution, followed by Fukui with 71 and Ishikawa
with 65. About 17,000 schools (about 25 percent) were closed
throughout Japan in mid-November, including nearly 900 schools in
Tokyo. An officer at the U.S. Consulate in Fukuoka reports that
one-third of his daughter's class at a Japanese school is currently
out with flu-like symptoms.


VACCINATIONS UNDERWAY
----------------------

4. Vaccinations of priority groups (Tokyo 2293) are underway
throughout Japan, although the pace, availability, and wait times
for vaccinations appear to vary significantly by municipality. To
date, 4.5 million people out of a total of 54 million at-risk
individuals have been vaccinated. Many prefectures have moved up
the start date for inoculations of children based on recommendations
from public health officials. Tokyo and Osaka prefectures started
inoculating healthy children in mid-November, and Fukuoka prefecture
will start this week. However, anecdotal evidence indicates that
wait times for appointment can be as long as two weeks.


CONFUSION IN VACCINATION POLICY
--------------------------------

5. The Government of Japan's (GOJ) plans to buy foreign vaccine to
make up for shortfalls in domestic production were thrown into
confusion last week when a higher than normal rate of side effects
for people receiving vaccine produced by GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) was
announced in Canada. The GOJ had signed a contract to buy vaccine
for 37 million people from GSK. Responding to widespread public

TOKYO 00002762 002.2 OF 002


concerns about foreign vaccine reported in reftel, Health Minister
Akira Nagatsuma on November 29 sent a fact-finding team to Canada to
investigate, and plans to send another team to Switzerland, where
the other foreign-produced vaccine Japan plans to import is
undergoing clinical trials. Press reports indicate that a
ruling-party legislator introduced a bill to make the GOJ liable for
any lawsuits by patients suffering side effects from foreign
vaccine. This action was criticized by domestic producers, who do
not enjoy the same level of protection.

6. The GOJ has reversed itself twice on the issue of whether one or
two shots are necessary for proper vaccination. After results of
clinical studies showed that one shot would be sufficient, a Health
Ministry panel announced in mid-October that only one shot would be
given to adults. However, in the face of opposition from some
lawmakers fearing liability issues, the panel scrapped this plan and
opted to continue giving two shots to each adult. Then, on November
11, the GOJ reverted to the original plan of giving just one shot to
healthy adults after another clinical trial showed that the second
shot was largely ineffective. This "flip-flopping," as one
newspaper editorial dubbed it, has left local governments, medical
institutions, and the general public confused.

OTHER COUNTER-MEASURES
----------------------

7. Media reported the health ministers of Japan, China, and South
Korea announced the three countries will cooperate on pandemic flu
and share data on H1N1 infections. Media also reported major
Japanese companies will begin drawing up contingency plans to deal
with mass employee absenteeism and thus limit the adverse economic
impact of new influenza.

ROOS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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