Over 3,000 people are now dead in China from the coronavirus outbreak, health officials said on Thursday. President Xi Jinping warned of the epidemic escalating outside the epicentre of Hubei province as more people travel and crowds gather across the country.
Xi’s word of caution comes in the backdrop of the outbreak seemingly slowing on the Chinese mainland even as it rapidly spreads globally.
The Covid-19 disease has now killed more than 3,200 and infected over 93,000 worldwide in more than 75 countries. The vast majority of the cases are in China.
Latest statistics revealed 31 new deaths – all in Hubei – until Wednesday midnight and 139 new confirmed cases in the mainland.
The number of infected is now 80,409 while 3,012 are dead from the virus first discovered in early December in Wuhan.
The number of new cases has been falling in China over several days now as hundreds of millions of Chinese continue to live under complete lockdowns or under some measures of movement restrictions.
Xi’s recent statement indicates that the lockdowns and restrictions will continue for weeks ahead.
He issued the warning at a gathering of the highest level of the Communist Party of China (CPC), a meeting of the Party’s central committee’s politburo standing committee which is the top seven-member decision-making group.
“While the task of containing the epidemic remains arduous and onerous in the outbreak epicentre Hubei province and its capital city Wuhan, the risk of an outbreak is rising in other regions as more people move around and crowds gather,” Xi was quoted as saying in a statement issued by official news agency, Xinhua.
He demanded that there should be no relaxation in the “epidemic response preparedness”.
“After the whole country’s arduous efforts, a positive trend has emerged as the epidemic prevention and control situation has seen steady improvement and the resumption of the order of work and life has been accelerating,” Xi said.
Xi stressed a clear understanding of the complexity of the current situation for epidemic prevention and control as well as economic and social development.
According to a statement released at the end of the meeting, the CPC leadership talked about “…unleashing consumption that had been suppressed by the outbreak and strengthening new and upgraded consumption to compensate the lost consumption on goods and services during the outbreak”.
“More attention is paid to epidemic prevention and control work in Beijing and other key regions,” they said.
Meanwhile, central China’s Hubei province has classified its cities and counties based on the risks of the epidemic, according to local authorities.
Twenty-two cities and counties had been classified as low-risk, while 17 classified as mid-risk and 37 as high-risk, by the end of Tuesday.
“Cities, counties and districts with no newly confirmed cases in the last 14 days are categorised as low-risk regions, those with less than 50 cases or with over 50 but without cluster outbreak are classified as mid-risk regions and those with over 50 cases as well as cluster outbreak are classified as high-risk regions,” state news agency Xinhua said in a report on Thursday.