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No Epidemics Reported in Flood-hit Huaihe River Areas
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China's newly-appointed Health Minister said an "improved local public health infrastructure" had ensured no epidemics had broken out in the areas affected by the flooding of the Huaihe River.

Chen Zhu, who is on an inspection tour of Anhui Province, the most severely flood-hit area, said, "Medical services, quality of drinking water and the diets of rural citizens have all improved," Chen said.

He said the new type rural cooperative medical system would be gradually extended and the expense will be mainly covered by the government.

"During the process, a financing system, a supervision system and some education and training are needed," Chen said when inspecting the disease prevention situation in the flood-hit area.

Meanwhile, local governments in Anhui Province are intensifying their efforts in disease prevention and disaster relief.

The personnel, material and technological preparation for coping with infectious diseases is in full swing, said a local official in Anhui Province.

However, the country's disease prevention situation in this flood season is still severe.

Last week, an estimated 2 billion rats invaded 22 counties around the Dongting Lake in Hunan Province and along the Yangtze River, after their homes on islands in the lake were flooded.

Local authorities are on the alert for a possible disease outbreak caused by the rat invasion. Li Junhua, spokesman for the Hunan Provincial Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said last Wednesday work teams had been sent to three cities near the Dongting Lake - Yueyang, Yiyang and Changde - to help prevent outbreaks of disease.

(Xinhua News Agency July 17, 2007)

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