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Public Health Emergencies to be Released Monthly
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The Ministry of Health will release monthly information on current public health emergencies in China. This is the first time that the health watchdog will be providing a national summary of such data.

"The release will be made on a regular monthly basis from now on," according to sources with the Ministry's information office.

Major epidemics, diseases of unknown origin, major food or workplace-related cases, and other serious incidents that pose a threat to public health, for example SARS and bird flu, will be reported, the Ministry said.

The ministry recorded a total of 279 public health emergencies in August, involving 4,128 people and leading to 202 deaths.

Infectious diseases and food poisoning were the top two killers last month, accounting for 74 percent and 21 percent respectively of the total number of cases.

The public health roundup is part of the ministry's overall contingency plan. The ministry has been publishing monthly reports on epidemics since February 2004.

Recent incidents include a lead poisoning case in northwest China's Gansu Province that has affected 368 people to date. The poisoning was a result of pollution from a smelting plant near Xinsi and Muba villages in Huixian County. The smelting plant has been shut down, and the State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA) is conducting further investigations.

In another development, tap water supplies to 80,000 residents were resumed on Tuesday evening in Yueyang County, Hunan Province. Supplies were suspended for four days after the county's main drinking source was contaminated with arsenide. Managers of the two factories linked to the contamination have been detained.

(Xinhua News Agency September 13, 2006)

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