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China: human cases "likely to increase"
Updated: 2006-01-10 18:55

Human cases of bird flu may continue to increase in China if there are more bird flu outbreaks, Ministry of Health spokesman Mao Qun'an said at a press conference Tuesday.

Noting that the current bird flu situation is "not optimistic", Mao said measures to prevent and control the epidemic must be strengthened as the danger of bird flu not only exists in China but also threatens other countries.

All 31 municipalities, provinces and autonomous regions in the Chinese mainland have set up leading bird flu monitoring centers. Bird flu prevention and control schemes have been improved to ensure the early detection and restriction of the disease.

In a recent national health conference, Health Minister Gao Qiang said that to curb the spread of major infectious diseases such as severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) is the most important task in China's health field.

At present, the government is working to build an effective monitoring system in rural areas.

"The human cases of bird flu reported so far have been spotted by big medical institutions. So, it's imperative to strengthen the capability of grass-roots medical institutions in confirming an outbreak as soon as possible," Gao said.

The eight infected human bird flu patients had been put under strict medical surveillance. About 38,000 people involved in the first seven human cases had been monitored well, Mao Qun'an said.

"No abnormal clinic symptoms have been detected in the patients. Nor are there human-to-human cases," said Mao.

Epidemiological investigation is being carried out in the seventh and eighth human cases to find the causes of infection.

Among the eight human cases reported, three people have died.

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