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November 14, 2009

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High alert: It's disease season

SHANGHAI has entered the key period for swine flu, seasonal flu and other infectious diseases, and medical authorities need to be on high alert to head off possibly deadly outbreaks, the Shanghai Health Bureau said yesterday.

So far, no local deaths from swine flu have been reported and there have been no epidemics of the H1N1 virus in schools or communities.

But given that cold weather is now here, the bureau ordered medical facilities and the disease prevention network to tighten supervision and monitoring of swine flu and other infectious diseases through April 15. The list also includes measles and meningitis.

As of Thursday, the city had detected 1,538 cases of swine flu since the first one was found in May. Only two patients have become seriously ill, and both have recovered.

Laboratories found that 80 percent of recent samples taken from patients experiencing flu-like symptoms tested positive for the swine flu virus, which is the major focus of disease prevention and control at present.

All district-based governments and medical facilities are required to work closely to enhance the supervision of swine flu and other infectious diseases.

The 31 national and city-level surveillance hospitals, 136 fever clinics at local hospitals, 12 selected public venues and nine farms will tighten supervision for early detection of community-based outbreaks and to monitor possible mutations of the virus.

Shanghai plans to give more than 5 million shots of swine flu and seasonal flu vaccines by February to high-risk groups such as primary and middle school students and teachers, medical personnel and public service staff.

About 1,000 taxi drivers finished receiving swine flu shots yesterday, becoming the first batch of cabbies to be inoculated. Taxi companies said that about 70 percent of their drivers signed agreements to receive the voluntary vaccinations.

The health bureau has also launched a supervision system to monitor possible adverse reactions to the vaccines and provide immediate medical intervention in case of serious side effects.


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