Chinese state news agency Xinhua is reporting that 5,824 children are still receiving hospital treatment for kidney diseases caused by a contaminated milk scandal.
The figure was down to almost half that reported a week ago when 11,000 children across the country were said to be in hospital after drinking milk products laced with the toxic industrial chemical melamine.
AdvertisementSix of the children who remain under the care of medical staff are in serious condition, a statement from China's Ministry of Health said, according to the Xinhua report.
A total of 43,603 children have recovered and left hospital since milk powder produced by the Sanlu Group was found to contain melamine in September, the report said. The crisis has since spread to include other companies.
China Wednesday said it was pulling all dairy products more than a month old off the shelves in one of the biggest steps taken by authorities to end the scandal, blamed for killing four toddlers and leaving more than 53,000 sick.
All dairy products made before September 14 will be tested for melamine, according to a notice posted on China's product safety watchdog's website.
China had said earlier that the products of at least 22 milk companies, or nearly 12 percent of products tested, had been found to contain the chemical.
Normally used to make plastics, melamine has been found in fresh milk, powders, yoghurt and other goods containing Chinese milk.
In perhaps the biggest in a string of Chinese product safety scares in recent years, the melamine was apparently mixed into watered-down milk to give it the impression of having higher protein content.
The babies who died suffered from kidney failure induced by taking in the melamine through contaminated milk powder. Many of the thousands of children who fell ill suffered from kidney stones and vomiting.