Govt panel: Flu may spread along with COVID-19

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry / The Environment Ministry. In Central Gov’t Bldg. No.5, Chiyoda ward, Tokyo

A Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry advisory body monitoring the status of the pandemic said Wednesday that it is feared influenza will spread early and simultaneously with COVID-19, despite a downward trend in the number of new coronavirus cases.

Measures will be reviewed to prepare in the event operations of medical institutions become strained, as experts have pointed that major disruptions may be caused to facilities that treat outpatients who have fevers.

According to the ministry, the number of new COVID-19 cases nationwide was about 660,000 in the week ending Tuesday, down 24% from the previous week. It decreased to the level of the peak number, about 620,000, during the sixth wave of the pandemic in early February.

It is feared that influenza will spread early and simultaneously with COVID-19 later this year or early next year. The ministry said vaccines for the novel coronavirus and flu can be administered at the same time.

Meanwhile, at a meeting of the panel, the National Institute of Infectious Diseases announced its analysis of 41 people who died at the age of 19 or younger during January to August after infection with the coronavirus.

The institute said 14 people, or 48%, of 29 people whose conditions were available through an interview with their doctors and others, had underlying medical conditions in their central nervous systems, among others.

Of 15 who were 5 or older and eligible for the inoculation, 13 were not inoculated. Among 26 of the 29, of whom the date of onset of the disease is confirmed, 73% died within six days of the start of symptoms. The institute said it is important to closely monitor patients during the week after the onset of the disease.