SHANGHAI/BEIJING (Reuters) – China reported 45 new coronavirus cases in the mainland for Saturday, down from 54 on the previous day, with all but one involving travelers from overseas, the country’s health authority said on Sunday.
A man wearing a face mask skateboards on a street in Wuhan, Hubei province, the epicenter of China’s coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, March 28, 2020. REUTERS/Aly Song
In the last seven days, China has reported 313 imported cases of coronavirus but only 6 confirmed cases of domestic transmission, data from the National Health Commission showed.
Most of those imported cases have involved Chinese returning home from abroad. Airlines have been ordered to sharply cut international flights from Sunday. And restrictions on foreigners entering the country went into effect on Saturday.
Five more people died on Saturday, all of them in Wuhan, the industrial central city where the epidemic began in December. But Wuhan, the capital of Hubei province, has reported only one new case on the last 10 days.
A total of 3,300 people have now died in mainland China, with a reported 81,439 infections.
Saturday marked the fourth consecutive day that Hubei province recorded no new confirmed cases. The sole case of domestically transmitted coronavirus was recorded in Henan province, bordering Hubei.
With traffic restrictions in the province lifted, Wuhan is also gradually reopening borders and restarting some local transportation services.
All airports in Hubei resumed some domestic flights on Sunday, with the exception of Wuhan’s Tianhe airport, which will open to domestic flights on April 8. Flights from Hubei to Beijing remain suspended.
A train arrived in Wuhan on Saturday for the first time since the city was placed in lockdown two months ago. Greeting the train, Hubei Communist Party Secretary Ying Yong described Wuhan as “a city full of hope” and said the heroism and hard work of its people had “basically cut off transmission” of the virus.
Concerns have been raised that a large number of undiagnosed asymptomatic patients could return to circulation once transport restrictions are eased.
China’s top medical adviser, Zhong Nanshan, played down that risk in comments to state broadcaster CCTV on Sunday. Zhong said asymptomatic patients were usually found by tracing the contacts of confirmed cases, which had so far shown no sign of rebounding.
With the world’s second-biggest economy expected to shrink for the first time in four decades this quarter, China is set to unleash hundreds of billions of dollars in stimulus.
The ruling Communist Party’s Politburo called on Friday for a bigger budget deficit, the issuance of more local and national bonds, and steps to guide interest rates lower, delay loan repayments, reduce supply-chain bottlenecks and boost consumption.
Reporting by David Stanway and Pei Li; Editing by Daniel Wallis, Paul Simao & Simon Cameron-Moore