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Nationwide campaign launched against epidemic
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The country is gearing up for a nationwide war against a mass outbreak of hand-foot-mouth disease (HFMD) with the number of cases this year continuing to surge.

The figure yesterday was 15,799, compared with 11,905 on Monday.

The government is doing its best to contain the outbreak, the Foreign Ministry said yesterday.

Minister of Health Chen Zhu met Hans Troedsson, China Representative of the World Health Organization, on Monday to update him on the epidemic outbreak, the Ministry of Health said on its website yesterday.

Prevention and control measures were being implemented in an orderly manner, Chen said.

"We will also expedite information release to prevent panic."

Troedsson said the WHO would continue to work closely with China in handling the outbreak and provide technical support.

As of yesterday, the number of fatalities had risen to 26, reported Xinhua. All the deaths were due to the intestinal enterovirus 71 - or EV71 - infections, lab tests confirmed.

HFMD is raging in at least 11 municipalities and provinces, including Beijing, Anhui, Shaanxi, Zhejiang and Hubei.

People are being urged through TV and radio broadcasts and newspapers to practice good hygiene including washing hands regularly and not sharing food.

More and more local governments have begun to regularly report to the public on the latest epidemic situation.

In Fuyang, Anhui - the epicenter of the HFMD epidemic - free treatment has been promised to all HFMD patients in critical condition, according to the city government website.

The Anhui provincial authorities said yesterday that medical costs of all EV71 patients would be reimbursed.

(China Daily, Xinhua News Agency May 7, 2008)

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