New coronavirus cases in China rise on infections from abroad

March 11, 2020 10:39
A giant screen shows a CCTV broadcast of President Xi Jinping's visit to Wuhan, at a shopping center in Beijing on Tuesday. Photo: Reuters

China reported an uptick in new confirmed cases of coronavirus infections, reversing four straight days of fewer new cases, driven by infected individuals arriving from abroad.

Mainland China had 24 new confirmed cases on Tuesday, the National Health Commission said on Wednesday, up from 19 new cases a day earlier.

Of the new infections, 10 were imported cases, bringing the overall cases from abroad to 79.

Beijing on Tuesday saw six new cases involving individuals who traveled from Italy and the United States, while Shanghai had two imported infections, Shandong province one and Gansu province one.

Taiwan too has begun reporting an uptick in imported cases. The government said on Wednesday the island’s 48th case was a woman in her 30s who had returned from holiday in Britain and had most likely been infected there.

As China’s efforts to control the spread of the pathogen at home start to payoff, Beijing is turning its focus on overseas cases as the coronavirus expands its footprint across the globe.

New infections in central Hubei province, the epicenter of the outbreak, continued to stabilize, with new cases declining for the sixth day.

In Wuhan, the provincial capital, just 13 new infections were reported on Tuesday, or all of the new cases in Hubei.

President Xi Jinping on Tuesday made his first visit to Wuhan since the coronavirus outbreak forced a lockdown of the city of 11 million people.

A few cities in Hubei have started to loosen restrictions on movement of people and goods.

Hunan province and the municipality of Chongqing lowered their emergency response level as domestic infections eased across the country.

So far, 24 municipalities, regions and provinces have cut their emergency response level from the highest tier previously.

The total number of confirmed cases in the mainland so far stood at 80,778 as of Tuesday. The death toll had reached 3,158 as of the end of Tuesday, up by 22 from the previous day.

The central province of Hubei accounted for all of the new deaths, including 19 fatalities in the provincial capital of Wuhan.

Italy

The death toll from the outbreak in Italy has jumped by 168 to 631, an increase of 36 percent, the Civil Protection Agency said on Tuesday, the largest rise in absolute numbers since the contagion came to light on Feb. 21.

The total number of cases in Italy, the European country hardest hit by the virus in Europe, rose to 10,149 from a previous 9,172, an increase of 10.7 percent.

The head of the agency said that, of those originally infected, 1,004 had fully recovered compared to 724 the day before. Some 877 people were in intensive care against a previous 733.

South Korea

South Korea reported a jump in new coronavirus cases on Wednesday as authorities tested hundreds of staff at a call center where the disease appeared this week, reversing 11 days of slowing infections, health officials said.

Another 242 new cases were reported compared with only 35 a day earlier, bringing the total in Asia’s worst outbreak outside mainland China to 7,755, the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said. The death toll rose by one to 60.

The daily tally of new cases in South Korea peaked at 909 on Feb. 29, as authorities tested about 200,000 followers of a fringe Christian church at the center of the nation’s epidemic.

With that task almost done, the infection rate had slowed in recent days, raising hopes that South Korea might be bringing the virus under control.

But new clusters at the call center in Seoul, and among teachers and students of a dance school with classes around the country, have kept authorities on high alert for a fresh spike in infections.

Fifty-two of the latest infections were in Seoul but authorities did not say how many of those were linked directly to the call center operated by an insurance company.

Authorities say they are testing the 200 staff who worked on the floor where the first cases were discovered, while monitoring others in the center’s workforce of up to 800 people.

More than 140 new infections were in the worst-hit city of Daegu, where the church is based, and the nearby province of North Gyeongsang.

“There has been a stagnating trend in Daegu cases despite a slight increase today,” said Yoon Tae-ho, director general for public health policy. Reuters

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