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The Swine Flu Continues to Spread

June 11, 2009

Although articles about school closings and the threat of the swine flu have abated in the U.S., in Japan they’re still going strong. Effects from the economic downturn have been exacerbated by the spread of the swine flu, which has scared some consumers into shopping more through the internet than at their local department stores. There have also been articles from international news sources claiming that the threat of swine flu in Japan might prompt the WHO to raise the world alert level.

The last frontier, the “West” of Japan was hit today by the Swine Flu. The big news was that the northern island of Hokkaido had its first case. The flu has already spread and affected most of Honshu, Japan’s most populous island. Each newspaper reported the incident.

Asahi: “In Hokkaido, the First Infection of the New Virus Has Been Found.”  The Asahi claims that on June 4th, ten friends left to travel to the U.S. and on the 9th they came back with more than they bargained for. At about the 11th of June, a call was placed to the local authorities stating “one of my friends has become infected with the swine flu.” The friend had the typical symptoms, such as runny nose and a high fever, and he went to the local counseling center.

Currently the friend who was diagnosed is in the Sapporo hospital, in stable condition, according to the Asahi.

Yomiuri: “It Came from America” Although they do not mention this in their headline, the first sentence tells that the infected 20 year old “flew home from America.” The Yomiuri also claims that when the person phoned into the local authorities, he had added where he had been, saying “My friend who went to Hawaii with me has been infected with the Swine Flu.”  

The Yomiuri closes their article by mentioning the temperature of the patient, at 99.4 degrees Fahrenheit and said “his symptoms are stabilizing” instead of the Asahi’s more optimistic “he’s in stable condition.”

Nikkei: “The WHO is investigating raising the alert level” The Nikkei reported that on the 11th, the WHO held a meeting of its top specialists in disease control to discuss the possibility of raising world-wide alert to its highest level: 6. The Nikkei claims due to the presence of the flu in the southern hemisphere, they’re looking at calling this a pandemic.

However the end of the Nikkei’s article closed on an optimistic note. They claim that the WHO recognizes that the current strand of flu has a low probability of becoming fatal. So even if the alert is raised, they’ll stop short of ordering blockades and closing borders, due to the economic and social consequences.

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