A child suspected of carrying the EV-71 virus receives treatment in a hospital in Hefei in central China`s Anhui province Monday May 5, 2008. (AP Photo)
BEIJING - China announced Wednesday new rules that require health care providers to report all cases of a viral illness that has killed 28 children and sickened thousands in outbreaks across the country.
There have been 15,799 cases of hand, foot and mouth disease this year, the official Xinhua News Agency said, cropping up in areas ranging from the tropical island province of Hainan in the south to Jilin province in the northeast and Yunnan province in the southwest.
The number and scope of cases in recent years, along with the need for increased surveillance, prompted the Health Ministry to enforce the new reporting rules, spokesman Mao Qun'an said.
"This demonstrates our commitment to people's health," Mao said at a rare news conference held jointly with the World Health Organization.
Under the mandate which took effect Tuesday, health care providers need to report cases to the ministry within 24 hours.
The outbreaks are the latest headache for authorities as they gear up for the Beijing Olympics. Preparations have already been upset by unrest in Tibet and protests during the global torch run.
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