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Disease outbreak in worst-hit China city in decline
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The incidence of hand-foot-mouth disease (HFMD) in the worst-hit Chinese city was on decline, with discharged patients outnumbering those checking in to hospitals for the first time, China's health ministry said on Friday.

The ministry said on its website that the majority of the serious cases had recovered with no fatalities for seven consecutive days in Fuyang in east China's Anhui Province, which had reported the initial outbreak and 22 deaths out of the 32 nationwide.

On Wednesday, Fuyang reported 269 new cases of HFMD, of whom 249 were hospitalized, the ministry said. In comparison, 324 people were discharged. No fatalities were reported that day and very serious cases dropped by 10 from the previous day.

By Wednesday night, 3,764 patients had recovered and 1,340 were still in hospital, according to the ministry.

The ministry's press office said the latest figures in Fuyang were not available yet.

The ministry said new cases had been steadily declining since May 1, and the newly hospitalized were mostly mildly ill.

The ministry attributed the decline to the effective measures of prevention and control implemented by the local government and hospitals and enhanced public awareness, and urged officials to step up their efforts till the outbreak was halted.

By Thursday, the Fuyang city government had earmarked almost 50 million yuan (7.1 million US dollars) for medical cost reimbursements and disease prevention and control.

Meanwhile, a virus lab has begun operating in the city to research EV71, a stomach virus that can cause a severe form of the disease, according to the city's center for disease control and prevention.

In the past, most of the research was conducted in Beijing and Hefei, the provincial capital. The new lab will make local virus tests possible and help control the outbreak in the city.

As of Thursday night, 24,934 people had been infected with HFMD nationwide, according to a tally by Xinhua based on confirmed death reports from provincial-level health bureaus. All were children.

(Xinhua News Agency May 9, 2008)

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