A team of 15 medical workers left Shanghai early on Friday to join relief work in Phuket, the Thai tropical resort island that was hit by the deadly southeast Asian earthquake and tsunami.
The medical team took a 4:00 a.m. flight to Bangkok and are expected to arrive at Phuket later during the day, said sources with Shanghai municipal health bureau.
The bureau received an emergency notice from the Ministry of Health Thursday morning requesting trauma treatment experts and epidemic disease specialists to be sent to Phuket from Shanghai.
Within two hours, it called together 15 professionals, including epidemiologists from the city's disease control and prevention center and doctors and nurses from two leading hospitals: Shanghai No. 6 Hospital and Zhongshan Hospital.
"We'll stay in touch with the Chinese embassy and do all that we can to save lives," said Pan Qichao, a 42-year-old expert on epidemic disease study who is also head and interpreter of the team.
The youngest member of the team is a 27-year-old nurse from Zhongshan Hospital.
Shanghai's health officials said a second medical team, which comprises of specialists from the city's public health center and Huashan Hospital, is ready to leave at any time.
A press officer with the health ministry said on Thursday 10 Chinese medical teams with 100 public health professionals and trauma treatment specialists are now ready for help to the tsunami-hit nations. "They can rush to the disaster-hit countries immediately as long as we receive requests from them," he said.
Meanwhile, the ministry noted that China's Center for Disease Prevention and Control had also set up a medical assistance team, including 10 experts on infectious disease control and treatment, disinfection as well as food and water sanitation.
The Chinese government has promised to offer 21.63 million yuan (2.62 million US dollars) in aid to the tsunami-hit nations. On Thursday it announced it will increase the assistance significantly.