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Epidemic Spreads, Local Cover-ups Complicate the Situation

The Ministry of Health is investigating the reported death of five young children in Shandong’s Heze City, where the real situation of the epidemic may have been covered up.

Since January 1, 2009, 42,000 Chinese have been infected with the contagious hand- foot-and-mouth disease, according to the Ministry of Health.

The disease spreads every year, but it struck earlier this year in all provinces except Tibet.  This year the epidemic hit the hardest in Henan and Shandong.  More than 94% of the patients are children under the age of 5.  20 people have reportedly died.

Source: BBC Chinese, March 28, 2009