Shanghai on high alert against intestinal virus

Updated: 2008-05-06 10:50

BEIJING - While there have been no reports of children infections by the deadly enterovirus 71, Shanghai, China's most populous city, is taking no chances and has prioritized early-detection checks and hygiene, local media said Tuesday.

The Shanghai Health Supervision Agency said Monday it had ordered all kindergartens and primary schools to enhance daily morning checkups for any signs of children with hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD), according to the English-language Shanghai Daily.

The agency also told the schools to designate special staff to supervise overall health issues, set up a reporting system on infectious diseases, carry out all-day health monitoring, visit the homes of absent children and exercise added care in disinfection.

Citywide monitoring and spot checks would be launched soon, said the agency, which told local hospitals to immediately isolate child patients with HFMD to prevent the disease spreading.

Kindergartens now require children who have passed morning checks to then wash their hands before entering the classroom.

At Ningbo Road Kindergarten in downtown Huangpu District, teachers have prepared more than 200 sterilized small towels for children to clean their hands after washing them.

Teachers there said they were sterilizing items such as tables, chairs, quilts and toys at least twice a day.

Some kindergartens have placed a ban on toys from children's homes.

"Teachers used to encourage children to bring in their own toys to exchange with each other, but now no private items are allowed in," Han Xiaorong, mother of a two-year-old boy, was quoted as saying.

Despite the intensified prevention measures, parents are still worried. "The disease sounds so terrible ... over recent days, I would rather shelter my son at home rather than expose him to possible risks at the kindergarten," Han said.

A recent local examination of 18 local kindergartens found that 91.8 percent of 219 toys and towels used by children met hygiene requirements, according to the report. Seventy-seven of 95 kindergarten staff members passed checkups for hand-bacteria levels. No people were found to have the highly contagious golden staph on their hands.

All kindergartens have established disease prevention and control systems in line with official requirements.

Agency authorities have also urged parents to avoid taking their kids to crowded public places and to report any signs of illness.

The number of hand-foot-mouth disease cases reported in China this year has risen to 11,905 by Monday, with 26 fatalities, according to Xinhua counting of local official figures.

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