Mainland China reports 573 new coronavirus cases on Feb. 29

FILE PHOTO: Pedestrians wearing face masks walk amid rainfall at the Central Business District, as the country is hit by a novel coronavirus outbreak, in Beijing, China February 29, 2020. REUTERS/Stringer

SHANGHAI/BEIJING (Reuters) – Mainland China reported 573 new confirmed coronavirus cases on Feb. 29, up from 427 the previous day and the highest daily increase in a week, the country’s health authority said on Sunday.

The number of deaths stood at 35, down from 47 on the previous day, bringing the total death toll in mainland China to 2,870, the National Health Commission said.

Of the deaths, 34 were in Hubei province, the epicenter of the outbreak, and the others were in neighboring Henan. Hubei accounted for 570 of the new cases, of which 565 were in the provincial capital of Wuhan, where the virus is believed to have originated.

The three new cases outside Hubei is the lowest since the National Health Commission began compiling daily numbers on Jan. 20.

In order to minimize the economic impact of the coronavirus, China has ordered all its regions to classify their districts into “high-risk”, “medium-risk” and “low-risk”, with the latter expected to end all traffic restrictions and allow everyone to return to work.

Hubei said on Saturday that 11 of its 103 counties had reported no new cases for at least 14 days, meeting the “low-risk” criteria. However, as many as 58 counties in the province are still deemed “high-risk”.

In speeches published on Sunday in Qiushi (Seeking Facts), the theoretical journal of China’s ruling Communist Party, President Xi Jinping said the country needed to take a “long-term view” of the outbreak and plug “loopholes” in its laws and emergency response mechanisms.

He said China must establish an emergency reserve and supply system for vital materials in order to ensure they can be deployed at critical moments.

Reporting by David Stanway and Hallie Gu; Editing by Rosalba O’Brien and Leslie Adler

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