All kindergartens in Fuyang City in east China's Anhui Province were ordered to remain closed following the May Day holiday, which ended on Saturday.
The decision was taken by the Fuyang City Headquarters for prevention and control of the intestinal virus enterovirus 71, also known as EV71.
Kindergartens began their holiday last Monday, three days ahead of the national May Day holiday. A date for re-opening will be announced later, according to the announcement of closure.
Experts said the move would help prevent EV71 from spreading further.
EV71 can cause hand, foot and mouth disease, which usually starts with a slight fever followed by blisters and ulcers in the mouth and rashes on the hands and feet. There is no vaccine.
There has been a massive outbreak of EV71 in Fuyang, with 3,736 children sickened as of Friday. Of these, 22 have died and 12 were in critical condition. Some had brain, heart and lung damage.
All were aged below six, with the majority being under two.
Two other deaths from the lethal virus were reported in south China's Guangdong Province on Saturday evening.
So far, China has tallied 4,987 cases of hand-foot-mouth disease in the provinces of Anhui, Hubei and Shaanxi this year.
(Xinhua News Agency May 5, 2008)