Anhui's Fuyang City has begun to offer free treatment to all patients infected with hand, foot and mouth disease that has so far killed 22 children in the city, the local health-care authority has said, Xinhua news agency reported today.
Enterovirus 71, which can cause hand, foot and mouth disease, began spreading in the city in March. As of Friday, 3,736 children had been infected by the virus, up from 2,946 a day earlier.
A total of 2,254 children remain in hospital, 30 in critical condition.
All cases were children six years old or less and most were less than two.
As long as the children had been diagnosed by county-level hospitals, they can get free treatment in the city, even if they don't have medical insurance, the city's disease control center said.
The Fuyang government has said it will assist those in serious condition, the center added.
Meanwhile, the center has closed all kindergartens in the city to prevent the virus from spreading. It has not decided when they will reopen, the report said.
There are about 400,000 children below the age of five in Fuyang.
(Shanghai Daily May 5, 2008)