Imported cases continue to spoil China’s progress against virus

Workers walk out of a transit centre for screening overseas arrivals in Beijing on March 15. (AP pic)

BEIJING: China reported on Tuesday just one new domestic coronavirus infection, but 20 more cases imported from abroad were found, threatening to spoil its progress against the disease.

The single case in Wuhan will boost China’s view that it has “basically curbed” the spread of the disease that is believed to have emerged in a live animal market in the central city in December.

Wuhan and its 11 million people were placed under strict quarantine on Jan 23, with the rest of Hubei province going under lockdown in the ensuing days.

Authorities tightened restrictions in the city even further on Feb 11, confining people to their residences as it faced a daily deluge of well over 1,000 cases – a move officials say was critical in containing the virus.

Other cities across the country enacted further measures to compel most people to stay indoors, and no new domestic infections have been detected outside Hubei for many days in a row.

But the country is now concerned about an influx of cases from abroad, with an average of 20,000 people flying into China every day.

Beijing started on Monday to require all international arrivals to go into 14-day quarantine in designated hotels, though people who live alone, minors, the elderly, pregnant women and people with underlying conditions are allowed to confine themselves at home.

Of the 20 new imported cases, nine were in Beijing and three in Shanghai, raising the total to 143.

China also reported 13 deaths, raising its toll to 3,226.

The country’s progress stands in stark contrast with the growing crisis in other countries, with the World Health Organization saying there were now more deaths and cases outside China.

The number of deaths worldwide has passed 7,000, with more than 175,530 cases in 145 countries.

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