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Warm weather brings on flu, fire warnings
By Jiang Zhuqing (China Daily)
Updated: 2005-11-25 05:50

Weather experts are warning people about respiratory diseases and potential hazards like fires, as the warmer-than-ever weather in most parts of the nation is predicted to linger for another 10 days or so.

"Though a mild cold air coming from Northwest Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region will sweep the nation from north to south early next week, the warm and damp atmosphere would not bring too much precipitation," Yang Guiming, a senior expert with the National Meteorological Centre, told China Daily yesterday.

The average temperature in November this year is higher than that of previous years, said Yang, adding that it is still too early to draw a conclusion that a "warm winter" is inevitable.

The comparatively dry atmosphere, higher temperatures as well as less precipitation in most regions will increase the risk of respiratory diseases as well as fires and other hazards, said the meteorologist.

Influenced by bird flu, warm weather and a possible outbreak, there has already been a ready market for flu vaccines in some places, reports said.

During the past two months, more than 700,000 people in Beijing have been inoculated with flu vaccines, an official with the Beijing Centre for Disease Control and Prevention said.

"Vaccine inoculation is one of the most effective ways to prevent flu," said Ding, a doctor in charge of a flu prevention hotline in North China's Hebei Province.

He told reporters that more than 150,000 flu vaccines have been used in Shijiazhuang, capital of the province. But the number is still small when compared with the city's population of 10 million.

In East China's Shandong Province, the Provincial Centre for Disease Control and Prevention said nearly all the 200,000 flu vaccines (mainly imported) prepared by the centre have been used, reported the Dazhong Daily on its website.

"It is hard for the flu vaccine producers abroad to produce more vaccines during a short period of time because the production plan had been drafted one year ago," said Yang Guohua, an official with the centre.

To resolve the problem, Shandong Province has decided to purchase more vaccines made by domestic producers to meet the increasing demand, said the official.

(China Daily 11/25/2005 page2)

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