China milk victims may have doubled to over 90,000
The toll of Chinese children ill from toxic milk formula may have nearly doubled since the Health Ministry's last public count, local media reports show, but an official said on Wednesday the number of new cases was falling, reported Reuters.
Beijing is struggling with fallout from adulteration of milk with the industrial chemical melamine. At home four babies have died, and thousands of infants fell sick, while around the world products made with Chinese milk have been recalled.
The government has not updated figures issued on September 21, when it said that 12,892 infants were in hospital, 104 with serious illness, and close to 40,000 others were affected but did not need major treatment.
But reports from local media across the country compiled by Reuters suggest the number of affected children has risen to nearly 94,000, although most are not in a serious condition.
In some areas diagnoses rocketed up in the space of just a few days. In the most extreme case, northwestern Gansu province, the number of sick children climbed to 13,459 by Sept 26 from 1,695 a week earlier, the official Xinhua agency said.
Worst hit so far is central Henan province, with over 30,000 cases by the end of September. Neighboring Hebei also has nearly 16,000 cases. The province is home to Sanlu Dairy group, which made the contaminated formula that sparked the broader scandal.
Despite the rash of cases across the country -- few areas appear to have been entirely immune -- the government says it has the problem under control and recent checks have found no trace of melamine, the toxic additive, in liquid milk.
The number of sick children appearing at hospitals is also falling after news of the problem has blanketed domestic media and spread across the internet, prompting parents to take extra care about what they feed their children.