Panic Rises in Japan over H1N1 Epidemic
Thousands of high schools in western Japan were closed today as more than 100 cases of H1N1 flu virus, also known as swine flu, were confirmed among the student population.
All junior high school and high schools were shut in Osaka and Hyogo prefectures in western Japan today.
This comes after over 100 people, most of them high school students, were confirmed to be infected with the new H1N1 flu virus over the weekend. And none have record of having travelled overseas.
The Osaka and Hyogo prefectures are the most populated urban centers in Japan after Tokyo.
So even though none are believed to be critically ill, the governor of Osaka has urged students to stay at home after he announced the schools’ closure.
[Toru Hashimoto, Governor of Osaka]:
"To all the high school and junior high school students out there, I beg you, as governor of Osaka, that even though school is off, please refrain from leaving your homes."
However, a Kobe bank teller was also confirmed to have contracted the new H1N1 flu strain today.
A sense of panic was evident as millions of Monday morning commuters wore masks to get to work.
In Tokyo, no risks were taken at the visitors' entrance for Japan's national parliament. Students and tourists alike were required to disinfect their hands and put on masks before taking the guided tours around the parliament buildings.
To date more than 35 countries have confirmed cases of H1N1 virus, and some 60 people have died so far in Mexico from the virus.