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China strives to minimize fatalities in viral outbreak
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China's health minister has urged better treatment of children afflicted with hand-foot-mouth disease (HFMD) to keep fatalities to a minimum.

Minister Chen Zhu told a teleconference on Tuesday that the outbreak in Fuyang in east China's Anhui Province, where 22 children had died, must be contained.

Other parts of the country must also step up prevention and control efforts involving serious contagious diseases including HFMD, he said, adding that they needed to make a comprehensive analysis of the HFMD outbreak within their own administrations and map out specific work plans to combat the disease.

As of Wednesday morning, the epidemic has led to 28 deaths nationwide, according to Xinhua's tally based on confirmed death reports from provincial-level health bureaus.

Chen said public health awareness and hygiene work must be enhanced, and primary schools and kindergartens should implement morning checks to prevent the disease from spreading.

Kindergartens should be closed for two or three weeks following reports of two or more cases -- or one very serious case. Once a serious or fatal case occurred, those who had close contact with the victim should be isolated for medical monitoring, he said.

Chen also urged local bureaus to remain alert and report any emergencies immediately.

Training of medical staff and management of viral labs should also be improved to raise their treatment and research capabilities, he said.

(Xinhua News Agency May 7, 2008)

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