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Anhui to Subsidize Patients Infected with EV71 Virus

East China's Anhui Province will reimburse the medical costs of intestinal virus enterovirus 71 (EV71) patients who are covered by a public health insurance scheme, the local health authority said on Tuesday.

All the costs of medicines and treatments of patients who in a critical condition would be covered, said the provincial health and finance departments on Monday.

The families of the dead and those who had already left hospital could reclaim their money, according to the circular.

Other insured patients diagnosed with the EV71 virus would receive refunds of 65 to 70 percent of their medical expenses, 15 percent more than the usual reimbursement.

The patients must be covered by the national cooperative medical care system and the maximum medical cover is 50,000 yuan (US$7,100), according to the circular.

Experts sent by the health ministry have found several ways to save the children, said Gao Kaiyan, the Anhui Provincial Health Department director.

Gao said the two major methods are reducing intra-cranial pressure and enhancing the immune system of the children.

In addition, the health department will launch a training course for doctors in county and village hospitals on prevention and control of HFMD. The six-day course is scheduled to start on Thursday in Hefei.

A total of 42 EV71-infected patients in critical condition were reported on May 2. The number dropped to 37 on May 3 and 26 on May 4. The death toll stood at 22, according to the department.

Anhui is the worst-hit province in China in the recent outbreak of the HFMD epidemic, with a total of 5,840 cases reported by Sunday. In Anhui's Fuyang City alone, 22 children have been killed and 4,496 infected since March 20.

The disease, in many cases triggered by the potentially fatal EV71, usually starts with a slight fever followed by blisters and ulcers in the mouth and rashes on the hands and feet. There is no vaccine.

(Xinhua News Agency May 7, 2008)

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