At a press conference on March 27, China’s Ministry of Health reported that there are currently 41,846 cases of hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD) in 30 provinces and regions. It was reported that 18 are dead and 94 are in critical condition. A web report from Shandong Province said that the actual death toll may be in the hundreds. The ministry admitted that some local authorities have failed to report the epidemic.
Shandong Province Severely Hit with HFMD
According to Radio Free Asia, six children in Heze City of Shandong are dead. As a result of the outbreak, the department of education announced school closures in Juye County of Heze, one of the severest hit areas. Authorities have quarantined some of the villages where the most serious cases had been detected, according to a local resident.
A staff from the Center for Disease Control in Juancheng County told Radio Free Asia that the local hospital is packed with HFMD patients. The staff revealed that there are twenty to thirty new cases reported each day.
A reader posted on the Chinese web version of The Epoch Times, saying, “Two of my college classmates from Heze said that there are over 600 children diagnosed with HFMD. Due to the serious situation, schools were closed and my classmate’s son was ordered to stay at home. Why does the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) spare no effort in blocking of the free exchange of information every time such life-threatening incidents occur? Do they disregard people’s lives?”
Another reader posted, “The Heze hospitals are crowded and the epidemic is spreading fast. The officials only assigned two hospitals [to treat HFMD patients] at first, but now there are three. We hope that the international media will pick up on this story and spread this news around the world.”
HFMD Predicted to Peak from May to July
The Ministry of Health spokesperson, Deng Haihua, said that about 93 percent of the patients were children under five years old. Seventy-five percent were affected by the virus EV71, which could lead to paralysis and encephalitis.
The outbreak of HFMD may have occurred earlier than indicated by these most recent reports. The disease has mainly spread in rural areas, and most of the victims are children. Experts predict that the epidemic may reach its peak from May to July.
Henan and Shandong provinces have suffered the worst from the epidemic. Fourteen HFMD deaths were previously unreported in the two provinces. According to a report issued by the Ministry of Health, in Henan 4,761 cases were reported with 37 seriously ill. In Shandong, 3,280 cases were reported with 39 seriously ill. Cases of submitting false reports on the number of victims are currently under investigation.
Read original article in Chinese.