This photo taken on March 10, 2020 shows a medical staff member cleaning the floor after all patients were discharged at a temporary hospital set up to treat people with the COVID-19 coronavirus in Wuhan in China's central Hubei province. China reported an increase in imported coronavirus cases on March 11, fuelling concerns that infections from overseas could undermine progress in halting the spread of the virus.
AFP/STR
China reports zero new domestic virus cases for first time
(Agence France-Presse) - March 19, 2020 - 11:53am

BEIJING, China — China on Thursday marked a major milestone in its battle against the coronavirus pandemic as it recorded zero domestic infections for the first time since the outbreak emerged, but a spike in imported cases threatened its progress.

The stark reversal comes as nations across the world have shut down in a desperate effort to contain the pandemic, with more people now infected and having died abroad than in China.

There were no new cases in Wuhan — the central city where the virus first emerged in December — for the first time since authorities started publishing figures in January, according to the National Health Commission.

Wuhan and its 11 million people were placed under strict quarantine on January 23, with more than 40 million other people in the rest of Hubei province entering lockdown in the following days.

The rest of China also enacted tough measures to limit public gatherings.

There were eight more deaths in China — all in Hubei — raising the nationwide total to 3,245, according to the commission.

There have been nearly 81,000 infections in China but only 7,263 people remain sick with the COVID-19 disease.

The global number has shot past 200,000, with more than 8,700 deaths.

On March 10, President Xi Jinping visited Wuhan for the first time since the outbreak began and declared that the spread of the disease was "basically curbed".

On the same day, Hubei officials allowed people to travel within the province for the first time since January, excluding Wuhan.

On Wednesday, Hubei authorities announced they were partially opening its borders to allow healthy people from low-risk areas to leave the province if they have jobs or residences elsewhere. This also excludes Wuhan.

Life has slowly started to return to normal in the rest of the country, with people back at work, factories up and running, and schools in some regions resuming or preparing to go back to class.

Second wave

But there is concern about a second wave of infections due to an influx of cases from abroad, with an average of 20,000 people flying into China every day.

Beijing and other regions are now requiring most international arrivals to go into 14-day quarantine in designated hotels.

The National Health Commission said there were 34 more cases brought in from abroad, the biggest daily increase in two weeks, with 189 in total now.

"We should never allow the hard-won and continuous positive trend to be reversed," Xi said at a Communist Party leadership meeting on Wednesday. 

The disease is believed to have jumped from an animal to humans at a market that illegally sold wild game in Wuhan late last year.

There have also been questions about China's official figures, as authorities changed its methodology to count infections, and the government has endured rare public criticism of its handling of the health emergency.

Local officials initially attempted to cover up the outbreak, with police silencing doctors who had raised the alarm about the emergence of the new virus as early as December.

One of the whistleblowers, Wuhan ophthalmologist Li Wenliang, died from the virus himself in February, sparking an outpouring of grief and anger on social media.

The first case emerged in Wuhan on December 1, according to Chinese researchers, but it was not until January 9 the country confirmed a "new type of coronavirus".

Between January 5 and 17, China reported no new cases of the virus, even as Japan and Thailand declared first infections -- a period that coincided with annual political meetings in Wuhan and Hubei province.

CHINA NOVEL CORONAVIRUS
As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: April 8, 2020 - 4:08pm

Follow this page for updates on a mysterious pneumonia outbreak that has struck dozens of people in China.

April 8, 2020 - 4:08pm

The Department of Health reports 106 new confirmed COVID-19 cases, bringing the tally to 3,870.

There are 23 new recoveries and five new fatalities, the DOH adds.

April 8, 2020 - 3:32pm

Voicing joy and excitement from behind face masks, tens of thousands of people fled Wuhan on Wednesday after a 76-day travel ban was lifted on the Chinese city where the coronavirus first emerged.

Previously quiet train and bus stations bustled as an exodus began from the city of 11 million, with some passengers wearing hazmat suits.

Hao Mei, a single parent from the nearby city of Enshi, said her two children had been home alone since she got stuck in Wuhan, where she works in a school kitchen.

"You have no idea! I was already up around 4 am. I felt so good. My kids are so excited. Mum is finally coming home," the 39-year-old told AFP as she waited to board a train.

"At the start of the lockdown, I cried every night. I was really miserable, because my little girl is still young, she's only 10."

Up to 55,000 people are expected to leave Wuhan on Wednesday just by train, according to government estimates. -- AFP

April 8, 2020 - 12:14pm

The National Telecommunications Commission and United Nations Children’s Fund join hands with the telecommunications to ensure parents and children’s security both online and offline amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Upon UNICEF’s request, the NTC extends its support in spreading information to alleviate the situation. The telecommunications sector is sending out text blasts encouraging subscribers to visit unicef.ph and saferkidsph.org for information and tips on how to support parents and children in managing the impact of COVID-19. 

April 8, 2020 - 8:02am

US President Donald Trump threatens to put a "hold" on funds to the World Health Organization, accusing it of bias toward China and performing badly in the coronavirus pandemic.

Trump tells he was "going to put a very powerful hold on" the WHO, the UN body whose biggest funding source is the United States. He gave no details about how much money would be withheld or when. — AFP

April 8, 2020 - 8:01am

The worldwide number of fatalities from the novel coronavirus rises 80,142, according to a tally compiled by AFP at 1900 GMT from official sources.

More than 1,397,180 declared cases have been registered in 192 countries and territories since the epidemic first emerged in China in December. Of these cases, at least 257,100 are now considered recovered.

The tallies, using data collected by AFP offices from national authorities and information from the World Health Organization (WHO), probably reflect only a fraction of the actual number of infections. — AFP

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