China on Thursday reported a second consecutive day of no new domestic coronavirus cases as the country’s epidemic epicentre Hubei province opened its sealed borders after weeks, allowing hundreds of people to step out of the province for the first time in several weeks.
If that was a sign of the outbreak weakening in China, imported Covid-19 cases, rose sharply on Wednesday, fuelling fears of a second infection wave returning to China riding on overseas returnees.
A total of 67 new cases were reported as of end-Wednesday, up from 47 a day earlier, all of which were from outside, China’s national health commission (NHS) said on Thursday.
It brought the total number of imported cases to 541 on the mainland.
The total number of cases now stands at 81,285 while the NHC reported a total of 3,287 deaths at the end of Wednesday, up six from the previous day.
Following the measures taken by Beijing, Shanghai government announced that starting from this (Thursday) evening, all people entering the city from abroad will be required to undergo a 14-day quarantine to prevent the spread of the infection.
Expressing the Chinese government’s concern about overseas cases, the vice foreign minister, Luo Zhaohui said on Thursday that around 90 percent of China’s imported cases of Covid-19 are Chinese passport holders and 40 percent of them were students.
The Chinese foreign ministry, its embassies and hotlines have received 70000 phone calls from overseas Chinese on the pandemic, Luo said at a press conference in Beijing.
“Effectively curbing the rise of imported Covid-19 cases has become a priority of China’s epidemic prevention and control,” Luo said.
The minister urged Chinese overseas students not venture to places with high infection risks and avoid non-essential travel.
“We understand some overseas students are eager to come home…But under the current circumstances, by staying put, they can avoid being cross-infected in the hurried journey home or getting stuck mid-journey when the countries they transit in tighten border controls,” Luo said.
Planning for a new wave of infections from overseas returnees, Beijing and local authorities in other cities have tightened screening and quarantine measures.
Beijing reported six new confirmed Covid-19 cases from other countries Wednesday, bringing the total number of imported cases in Beijing to 149.
Three of the new cases are from Britain, with the others from Canada, France and Hungary.
By the end of Wednesday, a total of 416 indigenously transmitted cases were reported in the city, of which 392 were discharged from hospitals after recovery.