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Health officials fired for misreporting disease

TWO Chinese health officials have been fired for mismanagement in the reporting of hand, foot and mouth disease and investigators are looking into a possible cover-up, state media said yesterday.

China Central Television (CCTV) reported that the two officials in Minquan County, central China's Henan Province, lost their jobs following a preliminary investigation by the Health Ministry. It did not elaborate on how they mismanaged reporting of the data.

The investigation follows a news report last week by China National Radio that medical staff at the county's hospital had apparently falsified medical histories to hide a large number of cases suffered in the area.

The disease typically strikes infants and children, and while occasionally deadly, most cases are mild with children recovering quickly after suffering little more than a fever and rash.

So far, Minquan has reported some 220 cases of the illness this year, while the whole of Henan Province had more than 2,700 cases.

Investigators from the Health Ministry say it's unlikely there was a cover-up, but they're still looking into the case.

The CCTV report said Yang Baojun, director of the Minquan County Health Bureau, and Wang Zaiji, head of the Minquan County People's Hospital, were fired.

The CNR report said children with typical symptoms of the highly contagious disease had been variously misdiagnosed as having meningitis, upper respiratory infections, or intestinal infections by doctors.


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