BEIJING (Reuters): The central Chinese city of Wuhan, the epicentre of the country's Covid-19 outbreak, reported no new infections for the first time, while imported cases surged by a record, led by new infections in the capital of Beijing.
The city is expected to see new Covid-19 infections dry up by mid-to-late March and which could mean lead to the city's lockdown being 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 (March 19), citing epidemiologist Li Lanjuan.
Li is the director of China's State Key Laboratory for Diagnosis and Treatment of Infectious Diseases.
"If no new case of the virus 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.
The death toll from the virus 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.
The new imported infections also accounted for all of the new confirmed cases in mainland China, placing more pressure on authorities to screen travellers at key travel hubs.
Mainland China had 34 new confirmed cases on Wednesday (March 18), the country's National Health Commission said, more than doubling from 13 cases a day earlier.
Of the 34 imported infections, Beijing accounted for 21 cases, a daily record for the city.
That brings the total number of confirmed cases in mainland China so far to 80,928, the health authority said in a statement on Thursday (March 19).
The death toll from the outbreak in mainland China had reached 3,245 as of the end of Wednesday, up by eight from the previous day.
In the central province of Hubei, there were eight new deaths, with the provincial capital of Wuhan accounting for six of the fatalities. -Reuters
Did you find this article insightful?