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US offers assistance in tackling HFMD outbreak in China
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The United States has said it will offer any assistance necessary to help Chinese authorities tackle the ongoing outbreak of hand-food-mouth disease (HFMD), which has so far claimed 32 lives.

William Steiger, director of the Office of Global Health Affairs under the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, made the offer on Wednesday, the English-language China Daily reported Friday.

"We are willing to help China in any way possible with this issue," he was quoted as saying when talking to the China News Service.

The U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Michael Leavitt would visit Beijing next week, and cooperation on the prevention of diseases such as the HFMD was expected to be top of his agenda, said the report.

On Thursday, two more people had succumbed to the disease, taking the total fatalities to 30. The number of people affected, most of them children, has reached 24,934.

Also on Wednesday, Mao Qun'an, spokesman for the Ministry of Health, expressed confidence the disease could be contained, but said more cases were likely as the outbreak reaches its peak in June and July.

The World Health Organization has also promised to work with the Chinese government to combat the outbreak.

"International collaboration on viral research is of great significance," said Feng Zijian, an expert with the China Center of Disease Prevention and Control.

Chinese and U.S. teams have already begun working together on epidemiology research and investigation, he said.

Meanwhile, the State Food and Drug Administration (SFDA) said Thursday that the country had sufficient supplies of drugs for use in tackling the disease.

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