BEIJING (Reuters) – Mainland China reported a rise in new confirmed cases of coronavirus on Thursday, reversing three straight days of declines, because of a spike in new infections in Wuhan, the city at the center of the outbreak.
People wearing protective face masks walk past laundry hanging outside a house at a residential area in Wuhan, the epicentre of the novel coronavirus outbreak, Hubei province, China March 4, 2020. REUTERS/Stringer
Mainland China had 139 new confirmed cases as of Wednesday, the National Health Commission (NHC) said, bringing the total accumulated number of cases to 80,409. Authorities reported 119 new cases the previous day and 125 the day before that.
The increase was driven by more cases in Wuhan, the provincial capital of Hubei, where the virus is believed to have emerged in a market late last year.
Wuhan’s new infections climbed to 131 from 114 a day earlier. There was no immediate elaboration and health officials were due to hold a briefing later in the day.
After what some critics said was an initially hesitant response to the new virus, China imposed sweeping restrictions to try to stop it, including transport suspensions, lockdowns of cities and extending a Lunar New Year holiday across the country.
World Health Organization (WHO) officials have said other countries have much to learn from the way China has handled the outbreak and Vice Foreign Minister Ma Zhaoxu said many countries had asked for help and China was responding.
The number of new confirmed cases in Hubei, excluding Wuhan, has remained in single digits for seven consecutive days, with three new infections recorded on Wednesday.
In the rest of mainland China, outside Hubei, there were only five new confirmed cases, the health commission said.
The death toll from the outbreak in mainland China had reached 3,012 as of the end of Wednesday, up by 31 from the previous day. Hubei accounted for all of the new deaths. In Wuhan, 23 people died.
With the downward trend in new cases, Chinese authorities have turned their attention to stopping the virus being brought in from new coronavirus hot spots abroad.
The number of new infections overseas now exceeds the tally of new cases in China, with Italy, South Korea and Iran, in particular, seeing worrying spreads of the virus.
Authorities have asked overseas Chinese hoping to return home to reconsider their travel plans, while cities across the country have set up quarantine rules for those entering from high-risk places.
An infected person is known to have arrived in China from Iran, one of the virus’ new hot spots, last week.
The cities of Shanghai and Guangdong have ordered people who have been in countries with severe outbreaks within the previous two weeks to stay in quarantine for 14 days.
The city of Chengdu in central Sichuan province said it was also ordering quarantine for such people.
The NHC has said authorities were transitioning from “overall containment to targeted containment” measures, with a focus on containment within communities, and medical treatment.
Ma told a briefing China would make donations to South Korea, Iraq, Cambodia and Sri Lanka, on top of what it has already given to Pakistan, Japan and Iran.
China was also considering responding to WHO call for donations, he said.
“Many of the countries which have requested for our help had actually helped us previously, so when we help these countries, it is to help them fight the virus, and also to repay their kindness,” Ma said.
Reporting by Ryan Woo, Yilei Sun, Yew Lun Tian, Gao Liangping and Brenda Goh; Editing by Gerry Doyle, Robert Birsel
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