Friday, May 2, 2008

CHINA Beijing hides deadly outbreak, 21 children die and 3,000 are at risk

A deadly outbreak that raises many unanswered questions hit eastern China in early March, but the government reported its only on 27 April. World Health Organisation is worried by its quick spread. It might be EV 71.
Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) – A deadly virus of uncertain origin has killed at least 21 children and infected nearly 3,000 more (one third under the age of eight) in eastern China. First recorded in early March, the outbreak was kept secret by the authorities until last Sunday.
The virus, which might be the enterovirus 71, spreads mostly through contact with infected blisters or faeces and can cause high fever, paralysis and swelling of the brain or its lining. Most of those who died were under the age of two.
A representative of the World Health Organisation said that the situation was worrisome because of the higher than usual mortality rate compared to previous years; it warned parents to keep children away from public places and wash their hands during the outbreak.
The organisation chided China for the delays in informing the public about the outbreak.
But the Health Ministry has come to the defence of local authorities, saying the belated reporting was because medical teams were trying to work out what the illness was.
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