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Chill takes its toll on elderly and children
By Zheng Caixiong (China Daily)
Updated: 2005-01-03 09:15

The number of patients treated at local hospitals and clinics climbed at least 30 per cent this past week in Guangzhou, the Guangdong provincial capital, and officials are attributing the rise to unseasonably cold weather.

Most patients are senior citizens and children who contracted severe colds, respiratory infections and related diseases, Li Hancheng, a doctor at the Guangzhou Red Cross Hospital, said Sunday.

Some patients required emergency medical treatment, Li indicated.

Local residents, particularly the elderly and children, are being urged to pay special attention to staying warm and dry.

"Winter and the coming spring are usually the peak periods for cold and respiratory tract diseases in the southern Chinese province," Li told China Daily.

Guangzhou was affected by a cold front sweeping in from North China, as the mercury dropped to less than 2 C on Sunday after a record low of 2.1 C on the New Year's Day. Both are the city's lowest recorded temperature in the past 55 years.

And the temperatures reached minus 5 C in the northern part of Guangdong Province over the weekend, according to Huang Zhong, an official from the Guangdong Provincial Observatory Sunday.

The Shaoguan Section of the Beijing-Zhuhai Expressway had to be partly closed because of frost on the surface of the highway, one of the province's major expressway that links Guangdong to the northern part of the country.

Huang predicted the weather would gradually get warm again in Guangdong that borders Hong Kong and Macao special administrative regions beginning today.

But the cold weather did not prevent local residents and tourists from going outside for sightseeing and shopping during the New Year holidays that started on Saturday.

Major scenic spots, including Baiyun Mountain, Yuexiu Park, Guangzhou Zoo and the newly completed Children's Park have all reported big increases of tourists and visitors Sunday and on Saturday.

The city's Beijinglu, Shangxiajiu, China Plaza and Teen Plaza, the four major business centres have received more than 3 million tourists and visitors on Saturday, a big increase from the same period one year ago.

And the cold weather has helped promote sales of cotton coats, leather jackets, electric warmers and other products that can keep out the cold.

And business of many hotpot restaurants have also been brisk in Guangzhou in the past week.

Liu Chengzhi, a restaurant boss in Guangzhou's Yuanjiang Road, said the cold weather has increased his business.

His bar had witnessed 50 per cent growth in business volume in the past two days, Liu said.

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