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January 6, 2010

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Shanghai's cold snap has drain on power

SHANGHAI'S power consumption created a winter record yesterday as the maximum temperature reached a mere 2 degrees Celsius.

Yesterday's electricity load hit 19.46 million kilowatts and broke the seasonal record set just a week ago of 19.05 million kilowatts.

Shanghai Electric Power Co Ltd, the city's electricity supplier, said it had been prepared for the high consumption and would negotiate with a neighboring national grid network to handle any potential shortage.

"The current power supply has almost reached our maximum capacity," said Zhu Jixin, assistant chief engineer of the company.

The city is expected to shiver through sub-zero nights all week, weather forecasters said yesterday.

The cold spell should last two to three days from today with minimum temperatures at minus 1 or 2 degrees, according to Shanghai Meteorological Bureau.

The minimum yesterday was minus 1.4 degrees.

The wind-chill factor made it feel a lot colder, said Chen Min, chief service officer of the bureau.

"The chill is still being enhanced by cold fronts from the north," Chen told Shanghai Daily yesterday.

Temperatures are forecast to rise slightly by Saturday.

The weather should be overcast to cloudy today with the temperature ranging from minus 1 to 4 degrees.

The sky should turn sunny tomorrow when the temperature is forecast to have a low of minus 2 and a high of 4 degrees.

Some vegetable prices have risen by up to 30 percent amid the cold snap, according to city wholesale markets.

"The price of celery was 1.8 yuan (26 US cents) for half a kilogram just yesterday but it increased to 2.5 yuan today," a middle-aged housewife said yesterday morning in a Shanghai food market.

Health problems have also been a fallout. Children and the elderly were most vulnerable, health officials said.

Shanghai Children's Medical Center received more than 3,600 patients on Monday, an increase of 40 percent from late December.

"Most children suffer colds, fever, digestive illnesses like diarrhea and allergy-associated illnesses such as asthma," said Dr Yue Mengyuan, director of the center's outpatient department.

"Some children had repeated bouts of infections with colds which developed into pneumonia."

There has also been a big increase in adult visitors to hospitals in recent days, particularly the elderly and those with chronic illnesses.

Shanghai No. 10 People's Hospital, for example, is receiving more than 6,600 patients per day, a 15 percent increase on normal times.

"Many suffer cardiocerebral vascular problems and respiratory troubles," said Yu Fei, a hospital official.


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