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Northern cold front sends mercury plunging
By Qin Jize (China Daily)
Updated: 2004-10-21 00:14

The final days of warm autumn will be met with winter-like weather in the northern and northeastern parts of China over the next two days.

A Siberian cold front moving eastward across the eastern parts of Northwest China, North China and Northeast China beginning today, is expected to send temperatures plummeting 4 to 8 degrees C from Wednesday's average temperature of 20 degree C, a China Central Meteorological Observatory forecaster said.

The mercury is expected to drop 10 to 12 degrees C in Northeast China's Liaoning and Jilin provinces.

The cold spell began to affect Chinese capital Beijing last night, with today's temperature expected to drop four to six Celsius degrees on the average with moderate winds.

"The temperature will go up slightly tomorrow and maintain a high of about 20degrees C," said Chen Dagang, a forecaster with the local meteorological observatory.

However, that temperature won't hang around long since another cold front is expected to sweep into the capital on Sunday, bringing with it another burst of cold air.

Little chance of rain is forecast, but winds of force three to four are expected, forecasters said.

The end of warm weather means cold and flu season has dawned.

Hospital officials are reporting an influx of patients feeling under the weather, however, well within the normal flow expected of this time of year.

"Flu and colds are just more common in winter months because that's when the virus spreads," said Wang Ying, director of respiratory department of Anzhen Hospital in Beijing.

People are more likely to catch colds when the temperature changes dramatically, she said.

"Most of the symptoms patients are showing are of the common cold and there is no sign of the flu yet," she added.

With the recent news that British regulators have shut down a flu vaccine plant based in Liverpool, England, which belongs to US company Chiron, due to contamination, fears of inadequate levels of vaccine have left some consumers questioning its safety.

Official with Beijing Centre for Disease Prevention and Control on Tuesday assured the public that all flu vaccines are safe for use and there is an adequate supply in the market, reported Beijing Morning Post.

Wu Jiang, senior official with Beijing CDC, said the city has not found any contaminated flu vaccine and has prepared 1.2 million doses of vaccine, providing an adequate supply to Beijing residents.

He said Beijing has imported flu vaccines from the Italian production base of Chiron, which is different from the contaminated vaccine appearing in US drug stores.

Moreover, the State Food and Drug Administration has set a high threshold for medical products imported from the foreign countries so as to safeguard highly reliable quality.

Beijing formally started flu vaccine shots on September 13 and so far a total of 400,000 people have received the shots.

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