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Localities Authorized to Release Epidemic Information
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China's Local health departments have been authorized by the Ministry of Health to independently release reports of major epidemics and public health incidents from Tuesday.

Local health departments should implement the report-releasing plan made by the Ministry of Health and provide timely and concise information to the public, said the ministry.

Health authorities in provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities should provide weekly or even daily updates to the public if required, it said.

Early warnings of public health incidents should be announced without delay, it added.

All the information to be released must be reported to the ministry before being made public, so that the ministry can inform relevant regions, Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan and international organizations, noted the ministry.

The Ministry of Health used to be solely responsible for releasing information on epidemics and emerging public health events, such as SARS, HIV/AIDS, and the bird flu.

(Xinhua News Agency March 22, 2006)

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