BEIJING - China's Ministry of Health has urged local governments to be on
alert for SARS and human cases of bird flu and to strengthen prevention against
epidemics as winter approaches.
Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome first emerged in China's southern Guangdong
province, and the country is at the center of the fight against the H5N1 bird
flu virus, with dozens of animal outbreaks and 21 human cases since 2003.
"Experts believe that currently China has already entered the high season for
respiratory disease," the ministry said in a statement on its Web site (www.moh.gov.cn) on Tuesday.
"The health ministry demands that all localities strengthen supervision and
reporting of cases of pneumonia where the cause is unclear, human cases of bird
flu, ordinary influenza cases and SARS," it said.
Local authorities must "immediately report outbreaks and adopt measures to
prevent and control epidemics," the statement said.
Experts say management of outbreaks has improved, but the government has
acknowledged a lack of administrative capacity and a willingness among local
officials to disclose information.