China sees drop in new COVID-19 cases; all new cases imported

China sees drop in new COVID-19 cases; all new cases imported

China coronavirus in Shanghai
A police officer wearing a facemask amid concerns over the spread of the COVID-19 novel coronavirus controls the traffic in Shanghai on Mar 22, 2020. (Photo: AFP / Hector RETAMAL)

BEIJING/SHANGHAI: Mainland China on Monday (Mar 23) reported a drop in its daily tally of new coronavirus cases, reversing four straight days of increases, as the capital, Beijing, ramped up measures to contain the number of infections arriving from abroad.

China had 39 new confirmed cases on Sunday, the National Health Commission said, down from 46 a day earlier. All the new ones involved travellers arriving from abroad, many of them Chinese students returning home.

Beijing stepped up measures to contain imported infections, diverting all arriving international flights from Monday to other cities, including Shanghai and as far west as Xian, where passengers will undergo virus screening.

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Foreigners who miss international connections as a result of the measure would have to leave China, an immigration official said at the health commission's daily briefing, adding that foreign visitors should "think carefully" before choosing Beijing as a transit point.

Beijing reported 10 new imported cases, the National Health Commission said, down from 13 a day earlier. Infections from abroad in the city hit an all-time daily high of 21 on Mar 18.

Shanghai and Guangzhou have also said all arriving international passengers will be tested to screen for the coronavirus, expanding a programme that previously only applied to those coming from heavily affected countries.

The coastal province of Zhejiang, near Shanghai, will also put all arrivals from overseas in centralised quarantine facilities for 14 days, media reported. Zhejiang on Monday lowered its emergency response level from 2 to 3, the lowest level, reflecting easing concern about the spread of the virus.

Shanghai, which reported 10 new cases on Sunday, down from a record 14 a day earlier, lowered its emergency response level to level 2 from level 1.

Guangdong province saw seven new imported infections, Fujian had four and Jiangsu had two. Hebei, Zhejiang, Jiangxi, Shandong and Sichuan each saw just one case, bringing the total number of imported cases in China to 314.

Mainland China saw no new locally transmitted infections.

The health commission did not say from where the cases were believed to have been imported. Beijing authorities reported cases from Spain, Britain, France, the United States and Pakistan.

In Wuhan, capital of central province of Hubei, authorities have eased tough lockdown measures as the epicentre of the outbreak in China saw no new infections for the fifth day.

Downtown Wuhan remains the only high-risk area in the province, with other cities and counties classified as low-risk.

Wuhan went into a virtual lockdown on Jan 23 to contain the spread of the virus to the rest of China.

According to authorities on Sunday, people can enter the city if they are certified healthy and have no fever.

Hubei residents who are in Wuhan can apply to leave the city, but they have to be tested for the virus.

There has been no indication that Wuhan residents can leave the city for non-essential reasons.

As of Sunday, the total number of cases in mainland China stood at 81,093. The death toll rose to 3,270, up by nine from the previous day.

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Source: Reuters/nc/ec

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