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December 31, 2012

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Sunny, chilly year's end, then milder days

TODAY will be sunny and cold, with a low of minus 3 degrees Celsius downtown this morning, and a low down to minus 4 to minus 6 degrees in the suburbs.

Shanghai Meteorological Bureau issued a frost alert, especially warning agricultural interests to make proper preparations, and a cold wave alert was continued from yesterday afternoon.

Today's high is forecast to be around 4 degrees Celsius, before the mercury plunges to around zero in the first hours of New Year's Day tomorrow. But no more rain or snow is forecast early in the week.

Tomorrow and Wednesday are expected to be dry and sunny. The mercury will rise to highs of 7 to 9 degrees and the low is not expected to be lower than zero, forecasters said.

Mostly cloudy conditions with a chance for rain or snow return on Thursday and the temperature will dip again. A detailed weather forecast of the three-day New Year's holiday will be released late today.

With the drop in temperatures, local children's hospitals have reported an increase in patients with respiratory infections, especially with pneumonia.

"It is the peak season for pneumonia," said Dr Lu Min from Shanghai Children's Hospital. "Cold weather, consecutive rainy days and the poor air quality in winter are main contributors to pneumonia. Children get a cough easily and bacteria go all the way to the lungs, causing pneumonia."

People with chronic illnesses, especially cardiovascular diseases, should take special care. Doctors warned such people not to go outside too early and to keep warm when going out.

With the snow and cold, the price of vegetables per kilogram rose by 0.5 yuan (8 US cents) to 1 yuan yesterday, though supply remains stable.

Wang Yongfang, manager of Jiangqiao market, said the snow over the weekend won't cause serious impacts to local vegetable supplies since a big portion comes from southern provinces like Hainan and Guangdong and such supplies are larger than usual.

"Our market has 6,000 to 7,000 tons of vegetables every day, as usual," Wang said.

The city government also promised to ensure stable supplies during the cold and the New Year's holiday.

Prices won't rise sharply, government officials have said.


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