13% would flee virulent flu epidemic in metro area<cite cite="http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/dy/national/20090414TDY03102.htm">13% would flee virulent flu epidemic in metro area : National : DAILY YOMIURI ONLINE (The Daily Yomiuri)</cite>
The Yomiuri Shimbun
Of company employees commuting to offices in central Tokyo from other parts of Tokyo and four neighboring prefectures, 13 percent would consider evacuating themselves and their families temporarily should a new type of virulent influenza break out, according to a survey by a research institute of the Construction and Transport Ministry.
In the survey by the Policy Research Institute for Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (PRILIT) 25 percent of respondents said they would absent themselves from work during a flu epidemic.
PRILIT estimates that the daytime population in central Tokyo would decline by a maximum two-thirds if hit by a flu epidemic.
The online survey covered residents in Tokyo and four adjacent prefectures--Saitama, Kanagawa, Chiba and Ibaraki--who commute to offices located inside the JR Yamanote loop line.
Respondents returning valid answers totaled 2,000.
PRILIT conducted the survey to estimate transport capacity during a flu epidemic.
Asked whether they would evacuate their families to other places temporarily if there was a high possibility of a flu epidemic, 13 percent answered in the affirmative. Grandchildren topped the list of those to be evacuated, at 60 percent, followed by children, at 20 percent, and spouses, at 16 percent.
Among those who said they would not go to work during a flu epidemic, 17 percent said they would refrain from doing so although their companies have set no rules on the matter, while 7 percent said they are not allowed to report to the office under company regulations.
If the distance between each passenger is set at one to two meters to avoid infection, transport capacity would dwindle to about 10 to 30 percent of the peak during rush hours, PRILIT estimates. Transport capacity would be halved if railway company employees could not report to the office due to flu infection.
In view of these factors, in addition to the residents' strong desire to evacuate in a flu epidemic, the daytime population in central Tokyo would decline to 2.07 million from the current 6.01 million, the institute said.
(Apr. 14, 2009)
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