For a second day in a row, China found no domestically transmitted
cases of the virus that emerged in its central province of Hubei
late last year, according to new daily figures registered on
Fears of a second wave of infections are growing just as China
brings its epidemic under control, with the spread of the virus in
Europe and North America spurring a rush homewards by Chinese
expatriates, many of them students.
"The number of imported cases in China has further increased, and so
the pressure to be on guard has also increased," Wang Bin, an
official of the National Health Commission, told a news conference
in Beijing on Friday.
Mainland China had 39 new imported infections on Thursday, the
commission said. Fourteen of these were in the southern province of
Guangdong, eight in the commercial hub of Shanghai and six in the
capital, Beijing, it said in a statement.
The main entrypoints for infected travellers have been key transport
hubs such as Beijing, Shanghai and Guangdong, including the city of
Shenzhen, near Hong Kong.
A smattering of imported cases were also reported in the city of
Tianjin and the provinces of Liaoning, Heilongjiang, Shandong and
Gansu in the north, as well as in the provinces of Zhejiang, Fujian,
Sichuan, and the region of Guangxi further south, taking China's
total imported infections to 228.
The commission did not say where the cases were believed to have
originated, but provincial authorities said some of the travellers
had been in Britain, Spain and the United States.
"Everyone is being very vigilant about those coming back from
abroad. We must absolutely not let our guard down," Cao, a Beijing
resident who gave only his surname, told Reuters.
"We cannot relax this vigilance so much that we see a rebound."
In Gansu, five officials were punished for picking up travellers
returning from overseas without permission, including two who have
tested positive, the official Xinhua news agency said.
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As concern grows over infected arrivals from overseas, the foreign ministers of
China, Japan and South Korea held a video conference on Friday to discuss
cooperation to rein in the pandemic.
The new imported case in Tianjin, a city of 11 million, was a 23-year-old woman
studying in London who came home via Zurich, Tokyo and Beijing, Xinhua said.
The northeastern city of Shenyang said its first imported case was a traveller
arriving from London via Seoul, who displayed no fever or respiratory tract
symptoms at the airport on March 16.
Many outbreaks overseas were caused by travellers from China who were
pre-symptomatic and so had not been screened or isolated, the Yale School of
Public Health said in a study.
China has long recommended self-isolation by returning travellers, but
authorities in some regions now enforce 14 days in quarantine in a medical
facility for people returning from any of 24 badly-hit nations, to limit the
risk of spread by those not yet showing symptoms.
For a second day, there were no new cases in the outbreak epicentre of Wuhan,
the capital of Hubei, the National Health Commission said.
Mainland China's tally of infections stands at 80,967, with the death toll at
3,248 by Thursday, an increase of three from the previous day.
Globally, 245,000 people have been infected and more than 10,000 have died.
(Reporting by Ryan Woo, Gao Liangping, Brenda Goh, David Stanway, Thomas Suen,
Zhang Yan, and Gabriel Crossley; Editing by Stephen Coates and Clarence
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