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Expert urges prevention of epidemics outbreaks in snow-hit areas
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A Chinese expert has urged medical departments in snow disaster areas to act to prevent respiratory infectious diseases.

"Crowded places like railway stations should take swift measures against outbreaks of post-disaster respiratory epidemics," Zhong Nanshan said on Saturday. Zhong is a leading scientist who helped control the 2003 outbreak of the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in China.

Zhong is also president of the Chinese Medical Association (CMA) and an adviser to the Emergency Committee Office of Guangdong Province for public hygiene incidents.

Stuck on clogged highways or stranded amid massive crowds at railway or bus stations for days, millions of people are at high risk of infectious disease.

To support Guangdong in fighting the spread of infectious disease, Bayer HealthCare China donated cash and medicine valued at 700,000 yuan (97,300 U.S. dollars) on Saturday.

At the donation ceremony, Zhong said that large groups of stranded passengers should be moved to a number of locations to avoid a thrill-like situations, and that enclosed public places like railway waiting-rooms should increase ventilation and air flow.

He suggested that sanitation and sterilization measures be taken in crowded railway stations and airports. These steps could include using vinegar or wormwood incense; stopping littering, maintaining sanitation, encouraging travelers to wear gauze masks and exercise if possible and isolating persons who displayed initial symptoms of respiratory tract infections.

According to the Guangzhou Public Health Department, massive crowds in stations stranded by the weather are experiencing poor sanitary conditions and most lack adequate winter clothes. It has publicized prevention tips to passengers and prepared emergency medicines.

So far, no cases of infectious disease or food poisoning have been reported in snow-disaster areas, according to the Ministry of Health.

Minister of Health Chen Zhu has ordered public health departments to implement state medical procedures and emergency plans to ensure timely treatment for the ill and injured.

(Xinhua News Agency February 4, 2008)


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