Authorities in Beijing are on high alert in response to the outbreak of hand-foot-mouth disease (HFMD) that has already claimed the lives of at least 26 children across the country.
The Beijing center for disease control and prevention said on Tuesday that, as of Sunday, 1,482 cases of the disease have been reported in the city, but as yet there have been no fatalities.
Two kindergartens in the city have been ordered to close, one of which, located in the Jinsong area, has reported 15 cases of the disease since April 26, the Beijing Evening News reported on Tuesday.
Almost 90 percent of all the reported cases have involved children under the age of 5, and more than half were kindergarteners, the center said.
Cases have been reported in all 18 districts and counties of Beijing, with the worst hit being Fengtai, Chaoyang and Changping, the center said.
However, the situation in the capital is different from the one in Fuyang, Anhui Province, where 22 children have died from HFMD after becoming infected with enterovirus 71 (EV71), the center said.
Out of a pool of 57 samples taken from 49 infected children, only 15 were caused by the fatal virus EV71, the center said. Ten other children were infected by the virus, Coxsackie A16, it said.
Wang Quanyi, the center's deputy director, said both viruses are known causes of hand, foot and mouth disease, which is a common illness in children and infants.
Since 1983, when the disease was first identified in Beijing, the center has been notified of more than 11,000 cases, but no fatalities, Wang said.
Parents in Beijing, however, remain concerned.
Gao Jingying, who lives in Fengtai district, said: "We have been worried since we heard the news. I will keep my 3-year-old granddaughter at home until we know the threat has passed," said.
Meanwhile, as of Monday, Shanghai had reported 1,988 cases of HFMD, but no fatalities, the Shanghai municipal health bureau said Tuesday.
Also, a total 3,100 people in Guangzhou have been reported as having contracted hand-foot-mouth disease, as of Tuesday, according to the Guangdong emergency management office. It said about 10,000 cases will probably be reported this year.
(China Daily May 7, 2008)