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Health authorities on 24-hour alert for holiday
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China's Ministry of Health has put local health departments on 24-hour duty over the upcoming week-long National Day holiday in readiness for public health emergencies.

All the 32 national health emergency teams and local counterparts will also be in a state of heightened readiness for the 17th National Congress of the Communist Party of China next month.

Health officials must be ready to handle public health emergencies whenever necessary to minimize casualties, the ministry said in a notice on Wednesday.

Local health departments must share public health information with tourism, communications, railway and agriculture departments.

The ministry ordered health authorities to strengthen supervision of sanitation at tourist spots, restaurants, schools and medical institutions.

Public health emergencies included major epidemics, diseases of unknown origin, major food or occupational poisoning cases, and other incidents that may seriously endanger public health, said the notice.

The ministry's statistics show public health emergencies claimed 54 lives on the Chinese mainland in August with 130 incidents recorded and 4,929 people involved.

The National Day falls on October 1 each year and was officially prolonged to a week-long holiday in 1999. It is one of three "golden weeks" for the economy when people are encouraged to travel.

(Xinhua News Agency September 27, 2007)

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