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65,000-odd medical staff sent to snow-hit areas
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More than 12,000 medical teams with 65,500 staff had been dispatched to snow-stricken areas as of midnight on Saturday, according to an estimate provided by the Ministry of Health.

The teams were in charge of medical treatment, epidemic prevention and sanitation supervision, the ministry said. So far, the teams had treated 216,000 ill and injured persons in areas hit by the heaviest snow in five decades.

The authorities have also delivered more than 6.3 million brochures advising the public on disease prevention and the impact of the bad weather.

No cases of infectious disease or food poisoning had been reported in snow-disaster areas by Jan. 31, the Ministry said on Saturday.

About 33,370 square meters of health facilities, such as hospitals, have collapsed and another 74,461 sq m were in danger of collapsing, according to the ministry.

Medical machinery losses stood at 25.2 million yuan (about 3.5 million U.S. dollars) and losses of large medical equipment reached 26.9 million yuan.

The snow, the heaviest in decades in many places, has been falling in China's eastern, central and southern regions for almost three weeks. It has caused deaths, structural collapses, blackouts, accidents, transport problems and livestock and crop destruction.

Health Minister Chen Zhu and Deputy Minister Gao Qiang have ordered public health administrations to implement state medical procedures and emergency plans to ensure timely treatment for the ill and injured.

Local health administrations must immediately report any outbreaks of illness, including infectious diseases, food or carbon monoxide poisoning and illness of unknown origin, the ministry ordered.

(Xinhua News Agency February 3, 2008)


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