The growing number of imported coronavirus cases in China risked fanning a second wave of infections at a time when “domestic transmission has basically been stopped”, a spokesman for the National Health Commission (NHC) said on Sunday.
“China already has an accumulated total of 693 cases entering from overseas, which means the possibility of a new round of infections remains relatively big,” Mi Feng said.
In the last seven days, China has reported 313 imported cases of coronavirus but only six confirmed cases of domestic transmission, the commission’s data showed. There were 45 new cases reported in the mainland on Saturday, down from 54 on the previous day. Most of those imported cases have involved Chinese returning home from abroad.
Airlines have been ordered to sharply cut international flights from Sunday. And restrictions on foreigners entering the country went into effect on Saturday.
Five more people died on Saturday, all of them in Wuhan, the industrial central city where the epidemic began in December. But Wuhan, the capital of Hubei province, has reported only one new case on the last 10 days. A total of 3,300 people have now died in mainland China, with a reported 81,439 infections.
Saturday marked the fourth consecutive day that Hubei province recorded no new confirmed cases. The sole local case was recorded in Henan province, bordering Hubei. With traffic restrictions in the province lifted, Wuhan is also gradually reopening borders and restarting some local transportation services.
All airports in Hubei resumed some domestic flights on Sunday, with the exception of Wuhan’s Tianhe airport, which will open to domestic flights on April 8. Flights from Hubei to Beijing remain suspended.
More than 60,000 people entered Wuhan on Saturday after rail services were officially restarted, with more than 260 trains arriving or travelling through, the People’s Daily reported. On Sunday, streets and metro trains were still largely empty. Wuhan Metro, which resumed operations on Saturday, said its cars would keep passenger capacity at less than 30%.