TOKYO -- The average number of flu patients per medical institution in Japan in the week through Sunday came to 7.37, signaling the beginning of an epidemic, a health ministry survey said.
About 5,000 medical institutions in all of Japan's 47 prefectures reported 36,388 cases of seasonal flu during the seven-day period, the National Institute of Infectious Diseases said Friday. (Japan-Seasonal Flu-Surge)
- - - -
KUALA LUMPUR -- Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim greeted the country's Chinese community ahead of the Lunar New Year celebrations with a message of unity.
Anwar said Malaysia will work to empower its people while bringing them together. (Malaysia-Chinese New Year)
- - - -
COLOMBO -- Sri Lanka's national election commission on Saturday announced that local council polls will be held on March 9.
The commission said that all the main political parties had submitted nominations by the close of the deadline on Saturday afternoon. Accordingly, the commission fixed the date to hold the elections to pick new mayors and local council members for all the districts in Sri Lanka. (Sri Lanka-Local Elections)
- - - -
CANBERRA -- More than 17,000 weapons were surrendered in the first year of Australia's permanent national firearms amnesty.
The federal government on Saturday released the first annual report on the amnesty program, which allows Australians to hand in unregistered, illegal or unwanted weapons without facing punishment, revealing 17,543 weapons were surrendered in the first 12 months. (Australia-Weapons-Surrendering)