Official: No flu outbreak reported
( 2003-12-16 01:27) (China Daily)
Officials and doctors confirmed yesterday that there is no obvious increase of flu cases in the Chinese mainland at this time, and there are no signs of a widespread outbreak of the disease.
The number of flu virus samples sent to the state flu centre of the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is not larger than that in past years, said Guo Yuanji, a researcher at the centre said.
China is being cautious because usually small-scale outbreaks in some regions, especially in North China, occur quite often in the period from the end of November to the beginning of December. And China has also been the place where new flu strains have appeared, Guo said.
This winter, the situation in the US is serious. A widespread flu has hit 24 states so far, killing 23 children in the country and creating shortages of vaccines for the disease. Each year about 36,000 people die of the flu in the United States, while the figure is expected to surpass 60,000 this year, according to US media reports.
China is keeping a close eye on the spreading of the flu around the world and any new development of the disease, Guo said.
Half of the 30 children in a Beijing kindergarten class caught an infectious flu at the end of November. However, they have now all returned to school, said Zou Jing, a kindergarten teacher, told China Daily yesterday.
And no flu outbreak has been reported in other Beijing kindergartens in the past several days, said an anonymous official from the Beijing Education Commission under the municipal government.
Meanwhile, the hospitals reached by China Daily in Beijing, such as the Beijing Sino-Japan Friendship Hospital and Beijing Children's Hospital, said that they have not witnessed a significant increase in the number of flu patients in recent days.
The Ministry of Health and the CDC, the top disease control academic institution in China, have not reported any outbreak or large-scale epidemic of flu, or any warning of a possible outbreak of the disease this winter in the country.
The outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) last spring made people and health authorities at various levels pay more attention to colds and the flu, which can have symptoms that resemble SARS.
People having a fever that exceeds 38 degrees Celsius are encouraged to go to hospitals with "fever departments,'' which have been set up to detect cases of SARS.
Chinese health authorities and hospitals at the beginning of this winter called on people, especially children and the elderly who are more prone to catching the flu, to get vaccinated.
Since September, millions of people have gotten vaccinated in China, which has greatly contributed to the present low-level spreading of the flu, said Li Haifeng, a doctor from the Sino-Japan Friendship Hospital.
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