China Calls For Better Hygiene In Epidemics Battle

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The Chinese government plans to step up public hygiene to control epidemics in the coming summer, said the State Council, or China's Cabinet, in Beijing Wednesday.

"There will be a high incidence of infectious diseases in summer. It is of great importance to enhance public hygiene and prevent and control epidemics," said the statement issued after an executive meeting of the State Council presided over by Premier Wen Jiabao.

The top task now is to control and prevent the outbreak of hand-foot-mouth disease (HFMD), said the statement.

The number of HFMD cases reported in China has totaled 15,799 as of Tuesday, according to a Xinhua tally of local official figures.

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

The HFMD, a usually mild disease affecting children most, can be spread from person to person by direct contact with nose and throat discharges, saliva, fluid from blisters, or the stool of infected persons.

Local governments were asked to enhance public hygiene and tighten supervision on food safety in a bid to minimize the spread of viral epidemics and food-borne epidemics, the statement said.

They were urged to be alert to epidemic outbreaks and act fast to curb the spread as well as promote public awareness of the epidemics, it said.

Fuyang city of eastern Anhui Province reported has been the most badly hit, reporting 22 fatal HFMD cases.

"No person has so far been arrested but some were blamed for absence from the post in the outbreak," said Mao Qun'an, the health ministry spokesman, at a press conference also on Wednesday.

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