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  • AFD - Japan

    Japan: Govt. Panel Recommends Doubling Antiviral Stockpile

    # 2088

    Japan joins other nations around the world, including the UK and the United States, who are considering the wisdom of having more antivirals to combat a pandemic than originally contemplated.

    Two years ago most nation's felt that having a 10-pill course of Tamiflu for 25% of their population would suffice. Now, governments are going back and taking a second look.

    Given recent concerns over the development of Tamiflu resistant influenza strains, there is now also a push to diversify stockpiles to include GSK's Relenza as well.

    This story from Bloomberg.

    Japan May Double Stockpile of Antiviral Medicines (Update1)

    By Kanoko Matsuyama

    June 20 (Bloomberg) -- Japan should raise the stockpile of influenza medicines to cover about 60 million people, or half its population, against a possible pandemic that could kill millions, a government panel recommended.

    Japan should also increase supplies of GlaxoSmithKline Plc's Relenza in case of emerging drug-resistance to Roche Holding AG's Tamiflu, the team, led by Liberal Democratic Party lawmaker Jiro Kawasaki, said in documents that will be proposed to the government today. No timeframe was provided.

    ``There are many points that we must continue to discuss in detail,'' including deciding the ratio of medicines, Kawasaki told reporters in Tokyo today. ``We also want to consider including new drugs in development in Japan if approved next year.''

    Tamiflu and Relenza are being stored by the Geneva-based World Health Organization and governments around the world for use in the event of an avian influenze pandemic in humans. The medicines offer a defense against the H5N1 strain of bird flu that's spread to more than 60 countries and has killed 243 people in 12 countries as of June 19.

    Japan currently stockpiles anti-viral medicines for 23 percent of the country's population. Tamiflu is available for 28 million people and Relenza supplies would cover 1.35 million.

    (Continued . . .).)

    posted by FLA_MEDIC @ 8:33 AM

  • #2
    AFD - Japan

    Japan: A Dearth Of Preparedness

    # 2131

    Nearly three years after the alarm bells began ringing around the globe about the need to prepare for a possible pandemic, there obviously is still a lot of work to do.

    In Japan, a think tank mailed questionnaires to roughly 4,000 listed companies asking about their preparedness for a pandemic.

    Out of 4,000 questionnaires sent only 448, or about 11%, chose to respond.

    The results, as you will see, were far from encouraging.

    This report from the Japan Times.

    Thursday, July 10, 2008
    Many public firms not ready for flu pandemic

    Kyodo News

    A majority of listed companies surveyed have devised no countermeasures for a new type of influenza that some fear may develop, a think tank survey showed Wednesday.

    According to the InterRisk Research Institute & Consulting Inc. survey, 52 percent of 448 firms surveyed said they have no plans to work out measures against a possible new influenza pandemic for which people have little immunity.

    The government has been urging companies to work out steps against a possible pandemic because such an event could paralyze the country.

    The think tank, a research arm of Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance Co., mailed questionnaires to all listed companies in Japan ? about 4,000 ? from May to June, and received responses from 448, including 194 in the manufacturing sector.

    Of the 448 firms, 10 percent said they have already worked out flu measures, 14 percent are working on them and 23 percent plan to do so.

    Among companies with no plans to compile measures, 55 percent said devising effective steps would be beyond the capability of an individual company and 45 percent replied they have little knowledge about symptoms of a new influenza.

    Twenty-four percent said a new flu has yet to break out in Japan and 22 percent said coping with the disease is the responsibility of individual employees.

    "The survey provided shocking results," said Shigeki Honda, an InterRisk official in charge of research and development. "Socially responsible corporate entities should work out measures against a flu pandemic."

    While this poll was conducted in Japan, it is probably fairly representative of the level of preparedness and awareness in most industrialized nations of the world.

    posted by FLA_MEDIC @ 8:04 AM


    • #3
      Re: AFD - Japan

      Japan's Pandemic Assumptions Released

      # 2192

      While Japan's government has been fairly proactive in their pandemic preparations, including the acquisition of 20 million doses of pre-pandemic vaccine, little progress has been made in their private sector.

      Earlier this month we saw a survey that showed a surprising lack of pandemic preparation in that nation's business sector.

      Thursday, July 10, 2008
      Many public firms not ready for flu pandemic

      Kyodo News
      A majority of listed companies surveyed have devised no countermeasures for a new type of influenza that some fear may develop, a think tank survey showed Wednesday.

      According to the InterRisk Research Institute & Consulting Inc. survey, 52 percent of 448 firms surveyed said they have no plans to work out measures against a possible new influenza pandemic for which people have little immunity.

      In a move that hopefully will spur the private sector into action, the Japanese government has now released their own pandemic assumptions, along with a call for businesses to prepare.

      The pandemic scenario envisioned by the Japanese government closely matches the United States, and some European nation's, pandemic assumptions.
      Roughly 40% absenteeism, an attack rate of 25%, and a CFR (case fatality ratio) of 2%.
      Of course U.S. officials are quick to point out that while this would be a severe scenario, comparable to the 1918 Spanish Flu, it isn't the worst-case scenario.

      This from the Yomiuri Shimbun. (Highlighting is mine)

      40% of workers might have to stay home in flu pandemic

      The Yomiuri Shimbun

      The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry estimates that up to about 40 percent of the workforce would be forced to stay home in the event of an influenza pandemic.

      The ministry estimates that the pandemic also could cause social and economic problems, such as medicine shortages and power outages.

      For the first time, the ministry released estimates of problems that could be caused by a flu pandemic, hoping companies and other organizations would draw up preparatory measures.

      The ministry also released a revised outline of suggested actions for companies in case of an outbreak.

      Estimates were based on the human suffering figures in government's pandemic relief action plan--revised in October. The plan estimates 25 percent of people would suffer from a new influenza pandemic, with a fatality rate of 2 percent.

      The ministry used figures mentioned in preparedness plans by countries in Europe and North America to estimate the absentee rate of employees.

      According to the ministry's estimates, it would take about two to four weeks before a new strain of influenza virus reached Japan from abroad.

      Up to 40 percent of company employees would not be able to come to work for about 10 days because of sickness or caring for sick family members, the ministry estimates.

      As a result, business activities would be seriously affected. Power, gasoline and supplies of other necessities would be temporarily stopped, and imports would also be halted. Companies would have difficulty raising funds and settling accounts.

      The ministry estimates that there are five stages in the development of the pandemic: a pandemic outbreak in foreign countries; the arrival of the virus in Japan; a large outbreak in the country; a pandemic outbreak; and the aftermath of the pandemic.

      The ministry categorizes likely ill effects from a pandemic into 11 social fields, such as public transportation and medical services.

      In the event of a pandemic influenza outbreak, the ministry would call on companies to temporarily scale down nonessential business activities to prevent the spread of infection.
      (Jul. 31, 2008)

      posted by FLA_MEDIC @ 3:05 PM


      • #4
        Re: AFD - Japan

        Japan Begins Pre-Pandemic Inoculation Of Health Care Workers

        # 2207

        Japan is facing a dilemma.

        They have 20 million doses of pre-pandemic vaccine, based on an early clade of the H5N1 virus, that will expire next year.

        If they don't use them soon, they will lose them.

        Even if this vaccine doesn't prove to be a good match for the next pandemic, it is hoped that recipients may find that their immune systems partially primed to fight an H5 infection, and would only need a booster shot when a pandemic erupted.

        I explored this theory last month in a blog entitled Pre-Pandemic Vaccine Strategies, when new research, published in the August edition of The Journal of Infectious Diseases , came out suggesting that early administration of a prepandemic vaccine can prime the recipient for a later vaccine.

        Therefore Japan will began a test inoculation of about 6000 medical workers with this vaccine, hoping to prove that it is both safe and effective.

        This will be the first large scale administration of a pre-pandemic vaccine by any nation.

        If successful, Japan may elect to inoculate high-risk workers next Spring with the remainder of their expiring stockpile.

        Other countries, including the United States, will be watching this trial closely, as they also have prepandemic vaccines in storage that will expire over the next year or two.

        Pre-pandemic flu vaccine test starts


        About 70 doctors, nurses and pharmacists Monday received vaccine shots to protect against new strains of avian influenza at a Tokyo hospital, health ministry officials said.

        It was the first phase of a large-scale clinical trial--the world's first to test the effectiveness of pre-pandemic immunization to prevent the spread of a new influenza virus.
        A total of 6,400 doctors and quarantine officers will receive trial immunizations with a vaccine made from a strain of virulent H5N1 influenza found in Indonesia and China.(IHT/Asahi: August 6,2008)

        posted by FLA_MEDIC @ 5:46 AM


        • #5
          Re: AFD - Japan

          Japan's Health Ministry Seeks Major Increase In Pandemic Funding

          # 2251

          In another sign that global concerns over a pandemic have not lessened, Japan's Health Ministry is seeking nearly a 10-fold increase in their pandemic budget for 2009.

          They are asking for nearly 60 Billion yen (535 million US Dollars), up from only 6.3 Billion yen this year.

          With a population of 127 million people, this works out to just over $3 per person. Not a lot to spend on a national security issue of this importance.

          Ministry to seek 59.8 bil. yen to fight possible new flu pandemic

          Saturday 23rd August, 06:11 AM JST
          TOKYO ?

          Japan?s health ministry will seek 59.8 billion yen in the budget for fiscal 2009 to prevent a possible outbreak of a new human flu pandemic, especially one linked to bird flu, ministry sources said Friday.

          The sum, which is much larger than the 6.3 billion yen allocated in the budget for the current fiscal year, will be included in the ministry?s budgetary requests for fiscal 2009 starting April 1.

          Japan's government has been very proactive in pandemic preparedness, acquiring antivirals and pre-pandemic vaccines, while the private sector in Japan has been less inclined to prepare.

          This article, from July of this year, shows how far some firms have to go to prepare for a pandemic.

          Many, apparently, have no plans to prepare.

          Thursday, July 10, 2008
          Many public firms not ready for flu pandemic

          Kyodo News

          A majority of listed companies surveyed have devised no countermeasures for a new type of influenza that some fear may develop, a think tank survey showed Wednesday.

          According to the InterRisk Research Institute & Consulting Inc. survey, 52 percent of 448 firms surveyed said they have no plans to work out measures against a possible new influenza pandemic for which people have little immunity.
          Posted by FLA_MEDIC at <a class="timestamp-link" href="" rel="bookmark" title="permanent link"><abbr class="published" title="2008-08-23T08:12:00-04:00">8:12 AM</abbr>


          • #6
            Re: AFD - Japan

            Tuesday, August 26, 2008

            Japan: Plan To Add 3,600 Ventilators

            # 2258

            Late last week the Japan Health Ministry announced their intention to ask for nearly 60 billion yen ($534 million US dollars) for pandemic funding in next year's budget.

            Today we learn that at least part of that funding (2 Billion yen) would go towards increasing the number of ventilators (or `respirators', as this article calls them) in medical districts around that nation.

            Two billion yen would translate to roughly $5,000 per machine.

            Of course, it isn't enough to have the ventilators. Patients on assisted ventilation required highly trained respiratory therapists to monitor and adjust their life support systems.

            How they plan to deal with those needs isn't addressed in this article.

            Health ministry to introduce 3,600 respirators for new flu pandemic

            Wednesday 27th August, 07:31 AM JST
            TOKYO ?

            The health ministry has decided to introduce about 3,600 respirators at medical institutions across Japan to prepare for the possibility of a new influenza pandemic, ministry officials said Wednesday.

            The Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare plans to make budgetary request of about 2 billion yen in fiscal 2009 for the respirators, the officials said. Each of the nearly 360 medical districts in Japan would be given 10 respirators.

            The ministry is studying how many existing respirators owned by Japanese hospitals can be used in the event that a new flu pandemic breaks out. Many people who have contracted the H5N1 strain of avian influenza, which has been spreading in Asia and is feared to mutate into a new flu, have had respiratory problems, making respirators essential in treating them.

            Posted by FLA_MEDIC at <a class="timestamp-link" href="" rel="bookmark" title="permanent link"><abbr class="published" title="2008-08-26T20:26:00-04:00">8:26 PM</abbr>


            • #7
              Re: AFD - Japan

              Sunday, August 31, 2008

              Japan Considers Their Pre-Pandemic Vaccine Options

              # 2268

              Like a number of other countries, Japan has made a sizable investment in stockpiling a pre-pandemic H5N1 vaccine, based on an earlier clade of the bird flu virus. No one knows just how effective it will be against a pandemic strain, but the feeling it is, it may provide some protection.

              The problem is, vaccines have a limited shelf life.

              And millions of doses of Japan's stockpile will expire next year. Authorities are faced with either using these vaccines, or losing them.

              If they were to inoculate people with them, it is hoped these H5N1 antigens could remain protective for years inside the recipients.

              Of course, there is some risk involved.

              Only a few hundred people have received the H5N1 vaccines, and while no major adverse side-effects have been reported, the possibility exists that something could turn up if millions of people receive the shots.

              This month Japan began inoculating about 6,000 medical personnel, the largest test of the vaccine to date, to see if any serious side effects showed up. They are now trying to decide how many of the approximately 10 million remaining doses they want to distribute in their next major release of the vaccine.

              According to today's article, in Japan Today, they are considering inoculating 1.5 million medical professionals, including doctors, nurses, and pharmacists. Police, and other public safety workers, may receive the vaccine at a later date.

              A hat tip to Mixin on Flutrackers for this link.

              1.5 mil medical professionals eyed for expanded flu vaccinations

              Monday 01st September, 05:56 AM JST
              TOKYO ?
              The health ministry is considering inoculating about 1.5 million doctors and other medical professionals with pre-pandemic flu vaccines in a planned expansion of advance vaccinations to better prepare for a possible outbreak of new types of influenza, ministry sources said Sunday. Using the state?s stockpile of pre-pandemic vaccines, the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare started clinical trials in August targeted at around 6,400 people, including quarantine inspectors and workers at medical institutions for infectious diseases.

              The ministry initially planned to expand the vaccinations to an additional 10 million people, including police officers and others engaged in ??lifeline?? services, if the safety and effectiveness of pre-pandemic vaccines were confirmed through the clinical tests. But the ministry has decided for now to limit the number of people targeted by the expanded vaccination program to 1.5 million, including doctors, nurses and pharmacists, after advice that expansion of the vaccination program should be implemented gradually, the sources said.
              Posted by FLA_MEDIC at <a class="timestamp-link" href="" rel="bookmark" title="permanent link"><abbr class="published" title="2008-08-31T19:11:00-04:00">7:11 PM</abbr>


              • #8
                Re: AFD - Japan

                Japan Donates PPE's And Tamiflu To ASEAN Member Nations

                # 2304

                Japan has made a sizable commitment to the member nations of ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) to provide them with Tamiflu and PPE's (Personal Protective Equipment).

                Their donations are eventually expected to reach 1 million courses of Tamiflu and 700,000 sets of PPEs.

                Singapore has been selected to serve as a regional stockpile location for ASEAN member nations.

                ASEAN consists of 10 member nations :

                Brunei Darussalam


                S'pore receives Tamiflu, personal protective equipment from Japan

                By Julia Ng, Channel NewsAsia |
                Posted: 16 September 2008 1838 hrs

                SINGAPORE : Singapore's Ministry of Health (MOH) on Tuesday received over 3,960 courses of Tamiflu (Oseltamivir) and 35,000 sets of personal protective equipment (PPE) from the Embassy of Japan.

                Japanese Ambassador Makoto Yamanaka handed the stockpile over to the ministry's Permanent Secretary Yong Ying-I at an official ceremony on Tuesday.

                The provisions to Singapore are part of the government of Japan's overall donation of 1 million courses of Tamiflu and 700,000 sets of PPE to ASEAN.

                Half of it would be distributed to the respective ASEAN member countries, while the remaining would be stockpiled in Singapore.

                An MOH spokesperson said Singapore is honoured to be entrusted with the responsibility of safeguarding the regional stockpile, and to facilitate the distribution of Tamiflu and PPE to affected areas in the region.

                She added that the MOH will endeavour to facilitate the delivery and distribution of the stockpile as efficiently and reliably as possible, should the need ever arise.

                Singapore deeply appreciates Japan's generous donation of Tamiflu and PPE to ASEAN and Singapore to protect against a potential pandemic influenza in the region. - CNA/ms


                • #9
                  Re: AFD - Japan

                  Japan: National Police Agency Releases Pandemic Plan

                  # 2313

                  While Japan's private sector has been slow to prepare for a pandemic, the Japanese government has been very proactive in the preparedness field.

                  Japan is currently conducting the largest pre-pandemic vaccine test in the world, and plans to inoculate 1.5 million health care workers with their soon-to-expire experimental vaccine over the coming months.

                  Today we learn a little about how the national police expect to deal with a pandemic.

                  This from the Japan Times.

                  Friday, Sept. 19, 2008
                  NPA releases action plan for flu pandemics

                  Kyodo News

                  The National Police Agency released an action plan this week for dealing with outbreaks of new types of influenza to which people have little immunity.

                  Health experts fear that new types of influenza, such as bird flu, could soon hit large portions of the world population. The action plan lays out specific measures for the NPA and prefectural police to take if an outbreak becomes a pandemic.

                  As soon as an outbreak is suspected, a special task force will be set up at the NPA and the prime minister's office, where NPA officials will be dispatched.

                  Police will then be equipped with masks and other protective gear while working with medical institutions so vaccines can be given to health care officials and others most likely to be exposed to a new flu outbreak.

                  The plan also calls for riot police to be mobilized around airports, harbors and hospitals. They will also strengthen patrol and security checks in coastal areas to prevent people who might be infected from illegally entering the country to prevent a disease from spreading.

                  The NPA action plan is based on a set of measures recommended by the government in December 2005. Based on the plan, each prefectural police agency will work out its own steps by the end of this fiscal year.

                  The NPA plans to seek funding of about ?155 million to implement the plan.


                  • #10
                    Re: AFD - Japan

                    Japan: Pre-Pandemic Vaccination Priority List

                    # 2314

                    Japan has, reportedly, nearly 20 million doses of pre-pandemic H5N1 virus in its stockpile - uch of which will expire in 2009. Authorities are essentially faced with having to use this soon-to-expire vaccine . . . or lose it.

                    Based on an older clade of the H5N1 virus, it is unknown just how much protection this pre-pandemic vaccine would afford during an H5N1 pandemic. Perhaps a little, it is hoped.

                    Over the summer 6,000 medical personnel were inoculated in Japan in the largest test of the vaccine to date to see if unwanted side effects would show up.

                    Nothing serious has been reported.

                    Now Japan is drawing up a list of 10 to 15 million workers who would, during a pandemic, be at particular risk of contracting the virus and who are considered essential.

                    Presumably early next year a decision will be made as to how many of these will receive the pre-pandemic vaccine.

                    According to an article published on September 1st of this year in Japan Today, authorities were considering inoculating 1.5 million medical professionals, including doctors, nurses, and pharmacists.

                    Police, and other public safety workers it said, might receive the vaccine at a later date.
                    This from The Yomiuri Shimbun

                    Doctors, SDF personnel top list of people to get flu jabs

                    The Yomiuri Shimbun

                    Doctors, ambulance attendants and Self-Defense Forces personnel will be among the first people to receive a flu vaccination in preparation for a possible flue pandemic, according to the government.

                    The government released a draft plan on how to determine which occupations should be given priority in receiving the vaccination, which will be prepared before and after a flu outbreak.

                    The draft plan covered 97 occupations that likely would come in contact with flu patients during an outbreak, ranging from doctors and ambulance attendants to waste disposal workers.

                    About 10 million to 15 million people are expected to be covered by the vaccination program, according to the plan.

                    The government plans to post details on these occupations on the Web sites of the Cabinet Office and the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry, government officials said Thursday.

                    After soliciting opinions from industry organizations concerned, the government plans to make a final decision on which occupations would be first in line for the vaccinations by the end of the current fiscal year, according to the officials.

                    The government classified the occupations into three categories.

                    Category I grouped occupations at high risk of being exposed to a flu during a pandemic, and people at the forefront of efforts to prevent the spread of new influenza epidemics.

                    This category included workers at hospitals designated to accept patients with infectious diseases, ambulance attendants, SDF personnel, and workers at facilities that will temporarily accommodate people who might have contracted flu overseas.

                    Occupations listed in Category II are divided into three groups according to their priority for getting the vaccine.

                    Among those in the first group are the prime minister, cabinet members and heads of local governments.

                    The second group covers people in medical and welfare services as well as drug manufacturers and distributors. The third group includes Diet and local assembly members as well as people working in the news media and telecommunication services.

                    Category III includes those providing public services necessary for people's daily life, such as electricity, gas and water suppliers, manufacturers of emergency food and daily necessities during a pandemic, including masks, and government officials.
                    (Sep. 20, 2008)


                    • #11
                      Re: AFD - Japan

                      Japan : Mask Recommendations For The Public

                      # 2323

                      Earlier this year the HHS released interim guidance for the use of face masks and respirators (N95) by the public during a pandemic.

                      Facemasks refer to inexpensive disposable surgical masks made of non-woven fabric, while respirators refer to the more expensive N95 masks.

                      In an Interim guidance on the use and purchase of facemasks and respirators by individuals and families for pandemic influenza preparedness the American public was given a much stronger recommendation for the home stockpiling, and use, of facemasks and respirators than we've seen before.

                      Some excerpts from this guidance:

                      Although not all households will have someone who becomes ill with influenza during a pandemic, because one cannot predict in which households an infection will occur, it would be reasonable for each household to stockpile some respirators that can be used, if needed, when caring for an ill family member.

                      With proper precautions, a single caregiver can use the same respirator several times over a day for brief care visits with the same ill person in the household,[2] so a stockpile of 20 respirators per household would be reasonable.


                      Pandemic outbreaks in communities may last 6 to 12 weeks.[3] Persons who cannot avoid commuting on public transit may choose to purchase 100 facemasks for use when going to and from work.

                      An additional supply of facemasks also could be purchased for other times when exposure in a crowded setting is unavoidable or for use by an ill person in the home when they come in close contact with others.[4]

                      Now Japan is reportedly about to recommend that families stockpile between 20 and 25 facemasks per family member in anticipation of an outbreak of a pandemic influenza.

                      Even at only 25 masks per person, for a country the size of Japan (128 million people) that represents a need for more than 3 billion masks.

                      This from The Mainichi Daily News. A Hat tip goes to Shiloh on Flutrackers for finding and posting this article.

                      Health panel urges Japanese to prepare masks as anti-flu measure

                      (Mainichi Japan) September 23, 2008

                      A government health panel is recommending the use of masks in the event a new type of influenza breaks out in Japan, suggesting that households should store 20 to 25 masks per person.

                      The recommendations from the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry special conference, compiled in a report Monday, are due to be carried on the ministry's Web site in the near future, as the ministry calls for caution among residents.

                      The panel recommended pleated masks and those designed to fit closely to people's faces. Both kinds are made of unwoven fabric whose fibers are chemically joined. The masks are generally disposable and the panel recommends having seven to 10 in stock so they can be changed daily during the 7-10 day influenza period, and another 16 on hand, on the presumption that people would have to go out in public twice a week over an eight-week period when they could be exposed to the virus.

                      Masks are sold in packs at pharmacies and convenience stores. However, they are not able to completely stop people from breathing in viruses, and the ministry says it is important for people not to come within two meters of patients and to take preventive measures such as avoiding crowded places.

                      Gauze masks can also be purchased, but they are reportedly not considered sufficient to block out new types of influenza. The ministry does not recommend industrial N95 masks which fit the face closely, as it becomes difficult to breathe when wearing them for a long time, and they are not considered to be suited to daily lifestyle.

                      On Monday the ministry panel also decided to classify stages of influenza outbreaks into four categories corresponding to the number of patients to make it easier to take countermeasures. Currently, plans of action are based on phases defined by the World Health Organization that indicate virus conditions and the international spread of the virus.


                      • #12
                        Re: AFD - Japan

                        October 4, 2008

                        Japan To Order 500K Sets Of PPE's

                        # 2359

                        Last month we learned that Japan had plans to purchase 40,000 sets of phylactic suits, or PPE's (Personal Protective Equipment), for use in a pandemic.

                        Today, we get word of an authorization to purchase another 500,000 sets of PPEs by the Tokyo metropolitan assembly, along with a major purchase of antivirals for their stockpile.

                        The 624 million yen investment in PPE's works out to nearly $6 million U.S. dollars, while the 8.5 Billion yen for antivirals represents an investment of an additional $80 million dollars.

                        A hat tip to Treyfish on Flutrackers for posting this link.

                        Anti-flu protective gear spending OK'd

                        THE ASAHI SHIMBUN
                        Planning ahead for a possible outbreak of a new strain of influenza, the health committee of the Tokyo metropolitan assembly Thursday approved spending about 624 million yen on 500,000 sets of anti-flu protective clothing.

                        The disposable gowns, masks and other items are for medical workers.

                        The committee also approved about 8.4 billion yen to stock up on two types of anti-flu drugs--enough doses to treat 3 million people.(IHT/Asahi: October 4,2008)