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China posts drop in coronavirus cases, Wuhan lockdown due to end

BEIJING (Reuters) – Mainland China reported on Tuesday a drop in new coronavirus cases after closing its borders to virtually all foreigners to curb imported infections, while the central city of Wuhan, epicentre of the outbreak, saw no new deaths for the first time.

People wearing face masks are seen inside a subway station during morning rush hour in Beijing, as the spread of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues in the country, in China April 7, 2020. REUTERS/Tingshu Wang

China had 32 new confirmed cases of the coronavirus on Monday, down from 39 cases a day earlier, the National Health Commission said.

All of the 32 cases involved travellers arriving from overseas, compared with 38 imported cases a day earlier. The overall number of imported infections so far stands at 983, the health authority said.

Wuhan, capital of central Hubei province, reported only two new confirmed cases in the past 14 days. It is due to allow people to leave the city on Wednesday for the first time since it was locked down on Jan. 23 to curb the spread of the virus.

With mainland China well past the peak of infections in February, authorities have turned their attention to imported cases and asymptomatic patients, who show no symptoms but can still pass on the virus.

China has shut its borders to foreigners as the virus spread globally, though most imported cases have involved Chinese nationals returning from overseas. The number of inbound travellers to China through airports has fallen to under 3,000 per day from around 25,000 in late March, before China slashed the number of international flights.

It also started testing all international arrivals for the virus this month.

The total number of confirmed cases in mainland China stood at 81,740 as of Monday, while 3,331 people have died, according to the authority.

Wuhan, where daily fatalities had fallen to the single-digits since late March, had no new deaths on Monday.

China reported 30 new asymptomatic cases on Monday, nine of which involved incoming travellers. Of the new asymptomatic cases, 18 were in Hubei province.

As of Monday, 1,033 asymptomatic patients were under medical observation.

(This story corrects 6th paragraph to show 3,000 referred to number of travellers entering China, not flights, and adds that is down from 25,000 travellers in March)

Reporting by Ryan Woo, Se Young Lee and Huizhong Wu; Editing by Shri Navaratnam and Muralikumar Anantharaman

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