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August 14, 2010

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Set hygiene rules for play areas, experts say

MEDICAL experts are calling for health authorities to set strict rules on disinfection and hygiene at children's playgrounds in shopping malls and department stores to prevent the spread of infectious diseases.

According to the Shanghai Health Supervision Agency, such playgrounds are not under its administration. Officials have detected some improper disinfection at some playgrounds, but they can only give suggestions instead of penalizing the playgrounds.

The places are disinfected by owners without professional guidance or inspections.

However, both parents and doctors are concerned about the playgrounds as they are often crowded on weekends when it is very hot or cold.

"My son likes to put everything into his mouth," said a mother on a website where parents share their child-raising experiences. "I have to watch him carefully to avoid health hazards and bath him as soon as we get home."

Dr Zhou Yunfang, director of the infectious disease department of Shanghai Children's Medical Center, said viruses or bacteria can be spread from saliva and touch in public places. Infectious diseases like hand, foot and mouth disease, flu and even SARS can spread easily in this kind of environment, she said.

"Children use their hands and feet while playing, so the facilities and toys are likely to contain viruses," she said.

"The authorities had better launch strict rules to ensure playground owners disinfect all their facilities every day and give children a hand sanitizer," she said. Playground officials said they disinfect and clean the facilities and have rules to ensure hygiene.

Many said they require people to wear socks and that they give all children and parents a hand sanitizer before entering the playground.


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