Second day in a row without local infections of coronavirus in China, but imported ones increase

BEIJING / SHANGHAI, Mar 26 (Reuters) – Mainland China reported for the second consecutive day that it had registered no new local outbreaks of coronavirus after the borders were opened in Hubei, the province where the outbreak originated, although imported cases increased and Beijing increased controls to prevent a resurgence of infections.

At the end of Wednesday, 67 new cases of infection with the pathogen had been reported, more than the 47 the day before, all of which were imported from abroad, the Chinese National Health Commission said in a statement on Thursday.

The total number of cases in the country thus amounts to 81,285.

The commission reported a total of 3,287 deaths at the end of Wednesday, six more than the day before.

All the new patients registered on Wednesday were travelers arriving in China from abroad, with no infections reported within the country’s mainland.

Shanghai reported the highest number of cases with 18, followed by Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region with 12 and Guangdong Province with 11.

About 90% of all imported cases are Chinese passport holders, Vice Foreign Minister Luo Zhaohui said at a press conference on Thursday, adding that 40% of them are Chinese students abroad who are returning to the country due to increased infections across the globe.

Fearing a new wave of infections from imported cases, the authorities have stepped up quarantine and detection measures in other major cities in the country such as Beijing, where any traveler from abroad must undergo a centralized quarantine.

The number of new daily cases in China remains very low since the peak of the outbreak in the country in February, allowing Beijing to boost the resumption of economic activity in the world’s second-largest economy.

Hubei province, where some 60 million people live, did not report new cases on Wednesday and opened its borders. Public transport was restarted and residents of Xianning City walked the streets protected by masks.

(Information from Se Young Lee, David Stanway and Yew Lun Tian; edited by Michael Perry; translated by Darío Fernández in the Gdansk newsroom)

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