The ministry said Thursday that results over the past 24 hours showed 34 new cases, all detected in people arriving from abroad.
In the central province of Hubei, there were eight new deaths, with the provincial capital Wuhan accounting for six of the fatalities.
Of the 34 imported infections, Beijing accounted for 21 cases, a daily record for the city. It brings the total number of confirmed cases in mainland China so far to 80,928, including 3,245 deaths.
Medical workers from Yunnan province bid farewell to locals at the airport in Wuhan in central China’s Hubei province Wednesday
Wuhan at the peak reported thousands of new cases of coronavirus infection daily, overwhelming its health care system.
China has only just begun loosening draconian travel restrictions within the country, but has stepped-up 14-day quarantine regulations on those arriving in Beijing, Shanghai and elsewhere from overseas, amid expectations of a new influx of students and others returning home.
More than 70,000 people have been released from hospital and 7,263 remain in treatment.
Wuhan is expected to see new coronavirus infections dry up by mid-to-late March and its lockdown may be lifted once there are no new cases for 14 days, the state-backed China Daily reported.
However, strict disease control and prevention measures will still be needed to prevent a possible rebound, China Daily reported on Thursday, citing epidemiologist Li Lanjuan.
A patient passes through the fever clinic of Xiehe Hospital, Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China on Wednesday
Li is the director of China’s State Key Laboratory for Diagnosis and Treatment of Infectious Diseases.
‘If no new case of the coronavirus has been reported for 14 consecutive days in Wuhan following the last reported case, we believe it will be the time when the lockdown can be gradually lifted,’ Li told China Daily.
‘We expect new cases will cease to appear in mid or late March. After the lockdown is loosened, we still need to strictly carry out routine measures to prevent and control the virus to prevent a possible rebound of the outbreak.’
Wuhan, a city of 11 million and the capital of central Hubei province, has been locked down since the Lunar New Year festival in mid-January, and remains the only city still designated as ‘high-risk’ in the province and subject to strict travel bans.
Patients wait in line outside the fever clinic of Wuhan Union Medical College Hospital for nucleic acid detection in Wuhan, Hubei Province, on Wednesday
The death toll from the coronavirus in Hubei stood at 3,130 as of March 18, accounting for more than a third of the global tally of over 8,000 deaths.
But Wuhan reported no new cases on Wednesday for the first time since the outbreak. It previously saw just one domestic transmission per day on Monday and Tuesday. The rest of Hubei has had no new infections for almost two weeks.
Overall, mainland China is seeing fewer local transmissions. It last reported 34 new confirmed cases on Wednesday, the National Health Commission said, all of which are imported infections.
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