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Children Hospitalized for Food Poisoning
Seventy kindergarten children and two of their teachers fell ill after eating breakfast, thought to be laced with rat poison.

But after receiving emergency hospital treatment, all but five of the children have been sent home.

And an official from Zhanjiang Municipal Bureau of Public Health in South China's Guangdong Province said yesterday those youngsters still recovering in hospital are expected to return home this week.

The children and staff were struck down with food poisoning on Monday morning after eating breakfast at their school, Kangle No 2 Kindergarten in Wuchuan's Huangpo Township on the Leizhou Peninsula, Guangdong Province.

The children, aged between 18 months and 6 years old, began vomiting and became seriously ill after eating their breakfast.

They were immediately taken to local clinics and then variously transferred to Wuchuan People's Hospital and Zhanjiang Nanyou Hospital for emergency treatment.

The children and their teachers were quickly diagnosed as suffering from food poisoning, said the health official.

It is suspected that the food they ate was contaminated with some kind of rat poison.

The poisoning is believed to be one of the most extensive incidents of child food poisoning ever reported in Guangdong Province.

An expert medical team that includes senior paediatricians from Guangzhou, capital of Guangdong, and Zhanjiang has been sent to Wuchuan to help.

A special task force, consisting of police officers and public health officials, has also been set up to investigate the incident.

And at this stage police have refused to rule out the possibility of foul play.

They are concentrating all their efforts on identifying the source of the poison and bringing those responsible to justice. So far, no arrests have been made or suspects identified. The Ministry of Health has not as yet commented on the case.

Past outbreaks of food poisoning in schools and other public places have been blamed on a lack of effective supervision and management.

Earlier this year the Ministry of Health urged its officials, at various levels, to improve their effectiveness at combating the problem of food poisoning.

On November 22, 116 pupils and six teachers fell ill with food poisoning in Wenchang, South China's Hainan Province.

In another incident in Guangdong Province, on November 21, 103 workers at a shoe-making factory in Baiyun District, Guangzhou, were reportedly poisoned after eating food in the factory's canteen.

On September 14, a man, subsequently executed, poisoned his rival's dough, killing 42 people in Nanjing, capital of East China's Jiangsu Province.

(China Daily November 27, 2002)

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