Three more Chinese regions lower virus emergency response level

February 26, 2020 10:34
Workers wearing protective masks remove Lunar New Year decorations in a neighborhood in Beijing on Tuesday. Photo: Reuters

The northwestern Chinese regions of Inner Mongolia and Xinjiang and the southwestern province of Sichuan have downgraded their emergency response level after assessing that health risks from the coronavirus outbreak have receded, state media reported.

China had 406 new confirmed cases of coronavirus infections on Tuesday, the country’s National Health Commission said on Wednesday, down from 508 cases a day earlier.

That brings the total number of confirmed cases in mainland China so far to 78,064.

The death toll from the outbreak in the mainland had reached 2,715 at the end of Tuesday, up by 52 from the previous day, the commission said.

The central province of Hubei, epicenter of the outbreak, reported 401 new cases on Tuesday versus 499 cases a day earlier.

China has a four-tier response system for public health emergencies that determines what measures a region will implement, with level I the most serious.

Sichuan announced it would adjust its measures from level I to level II, while Inner Mongolia will change from level I to level III, state news agency Xinhua said on Wednesday.

Sichuan said every locality will be required to return to work and develop targeted prevention and control programs for areas still deemed “high-risk”.

The region of Xinjiang, home to China’s Muslim Uighur population, also reduced its emergency response level from I to II after reporting no new cases for seven consecutive days, the official local news portal said on Wednesday.

The provinces of Gansu, Yunnan, Guangdong, Shanxi, Guizhou and Anhui have also cut their emergency response levels in the last few days.

Some regions, including Fujian in the southeast, are also starting to dismantle emergency roadblocks designed to screen incoming vehicles and curb the contagion.

The World Health Organization has said the epidemic in China peaked between Jan. 23 and Feb. 2 and has been in decline since.

With the economy reeling as a result of nationwide industrial closures and transportation disruptions, China has been urging “low-risk” regions to get back to work as quickly as possible.

An official with China’s state planning agency said on Tuesday that a more targeted approach to curbing the virus was required, and governments in low-risk areas must do their utmost to “restore order in production and life”. Reuters

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(Updated; last posted at 9:54 a.m.)