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China Steps up SARS Reporting Efforts
Chinese medical and health institutions are sparing no efforts to ensure the complete, accurate and timely reporting of SARS cases on the Chinese mainland, said an official of China's Ministry of Health (MOH) here Tuesday.

All hospitals in China above county level had special teams responsible for confirming and reporting SARS cases, said Sun Xinhua, an official of the department of disease control and prevention under the MOH.

Health departments at various levels were requested to report SARS cases in all hospitals within their administrative regions and then report to their upper authorities, through which the figure was reported to the MOH, said Sun.

To prevent inaccurate or delayed reporting, the MOH had given strict orders to local health authorities and disease control centers, to ensure every town and county within their jurisdictions was included, he said.

Sun said the reports had to include SARS cases in all hospitalsbelonging to local governments, departments as well as the army.

He cited Beijing as an example, saying that all the military hospitals in the city had been requested to make daily reports to the disease control centers within their districts.

In addition, the MOH had also had a rule for "zero reporting" since April 20, said Sun. "That means, even you have zero confirmed SARS cases, you must still make the daily report," he said.

Sun and another seven colleagues had been working around the clock, dealing with the reports from all over China. "I believe there must be altogether tens of thousands of people in health departments at various levels, who are now doing similar work," hesaid.

Meanwhile, the MOH said Tuesday afternoon that it would give a regular press conference at 4:00 p.m. each day, announcing the latest figures for SARS cases on the Chinese mainland.

To ensure that the daily report could be made on time, the MOH had asked each provincial health department to submit the latest figure no later than 12:00 midday each day, said Deng Haihua, deputy director of the MOH information office.

"To be more specific, the provincial health departments should report to the MOH the figure of newly confirmed SARS cases during the 24 hours up to 8:00 p.m. one day before," said Deng.

On April 20, MOH Executive Vice-Minister Gao Qiang told hundreds of Chinese and foreign reporters that under the current unified leading mechanism, accurate and prompt reports of SARS cases would be guaranteed.

Sun said he personally felt that the health institutions at various levels had a clearer concept of "time and accuracy".

"Compared with the underreporting and delayed reporting that happened earlier in certain places, the clear time and accuracy concept of local health departments is an important change and improvement to China's current medical statistical method," he said.

(Xinhua News Agency April 23, 2003)

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