China reports zero new domestic coronavirus cases for 1st time since outbreak
China on Thursday reported zero new local infection of the novel coronavirus in the past 24 hours, for the first time since the Covid-19 crisis broke out, a turning point in Beijing’s fight against the outbreak that has killed and sickened more than 81,000 in the country and hammered its economy.
Globally, the disease continues to spread with nearly 9,000 dead and over 2,19,000 infected.
Officials said on Thursday all the 34 cases reported in China until Wednesday midnight were imported cases - infected people who had returned to the country from abroad.
Their nationalities were not shared by the health authorities.
At least eight persons died of the disease on Wednesday, health officials said, adding that all the deaths were in the worst-hit central Chinese province of Hubei.
“No new infections of the novel coronavirus were reported on Wednesday in Wuhan, the epicentre of the epidemic, marking a notable first in the city’s months-long battle with the microscopic foe,” the official news agency, Xinhua said in a report on Thursday morning.
“With no new cases in Wuhan, the Chinese mainland on Wednesday reduced the increase in domestic transmissions to zero. The country now faces a greater threat of infections imported from overseas, which jumped by 34 on Wednesday,” the report said.
Previously, the central Chinese province had reported single-digit increases of new infections, all of which were from Wuhan, for a week in a row since last Wednesday.
A month ago, the figure was several thousand cases a day; hundreds of deaths were being reported.
China’s imported coronavirus cases have been more than local transmissions for several days now as infected travellers passed through major transport hubs in Beijing, Shanghai and the southern cities of Guangzhou and Shenzhen.
Of the 34 newly diagnosed imported cases, 21 were reported in Beijing, nine in the southern province of Guangdong, two in Shanghai, 1 in the northeastern province of Heilongjiang, and one in Zhejiang in eastern China.
As on March 18 midnight, a total of 189 overseas confirmed cases were reported.
The slowing down of new cases on the mainland is an indication that the spread of the infection has been suppressed in the country.
The first cases Covid-19 were reported from Wuhan in December – even by November according to reports – and then spread to the rest of China.
The first cluster of cases was linked to a seafood and meat market in Wuhan, which also traded in wild animals.