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The number of HFMD cases approaches 20,000
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The number of hand-foot-mouth disease (HFMD) cases reported in China this year jumped to 19,962 as of Wednesday, resulting in 28 deaths, according to a Xinhua tally of local official figures.

The figure stood at 15,799 on Tuesday, Xinhua found.

The rising number was not a sign of a deteriorating situation, but mainly because of a recent order by the Ministry of Health that made HFMD a class C epidemic, the incidence of which must be reported.

The southern Guangdong Province updated the number of infections to 4,876 late Wednesday, including 33 EV71 positive cases, according to the provincial health administration.

Local experts said the number of HFMD cases would continue to rise in the province as the peak season has yet to arrive.

The northern Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region reported 131 sporadic infections, according to Wang Wenrui, an official with the region's disease control and prevention center.

The local government has ordered the shut down of all kindergartens and implementation of morning inspection at primary schools in the worst-hit Dengkou County until the epidemic eases.

Tianjin Municipality reported 134 HFMD cases, including 113 children below five years old.

A local health official said the disease occurred annually in the city, usually increasing starting in April and peaking in the summer.

The northwestern Qinghai Province also reported nine HFMD infections, which were not triggered by EV71 on the basis of medical tests.

The nine children were receiving treatment in a hospital in the provincial capital Xining.

In the worst-hit province of Anhui in east China, the total number of infections has risen to 6,545. Currently, 104 patients remain in critical conditions and 3,166 have been released from hospital.

So far, EV71 is blamed for most of the 28 deaths in the outbreak of the disease. Of all the victims, 22 were in Anhui and three in Guangdong, with the rest in Zhejiang, Guangxi, and Hunan, respectively.

(Xinhua News Agency May 8, 2008)

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