BEIJING (Reuters) – New mainland coronavirus cases doubled due to an increase in infected travelers returning home from overseas. This increased the risk of transmission in Chinese cities and provinces where no new infections had occurred in the past few days.
A security guard wearing a protective mask sits on a tree in a park when the country is hit by an outbreak of novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) on March 23, 2020 in Beijing, China. REUTERS / Thomas Peter
China had 78 new cases on Monday, the National Health Commission said, doubling from Sunday. 74 of the new cases were imported infections, compared to 39 imported cases the day before.
The Chinese capital was hit hardest with 31 newly imported cases, followed by the southern province of Guangdong at 14 and the financial center of Shanghai at nine. The total number of imported cases in China was 427 on Monday.
Beijing has imposed strict controls and quarantine and rerouted international flights to other Chinese cities, but that has not stopped the influx of Chinese nationals, many of whom are students returning home from virus-infected countries.
The southern city of Shenzhen said on Tuesday that it would test all arrivals at its ports of entry and that Macau’s Chinese territory would ban visitors from mainland, Hong Kong and Taiwan.
The number of local infections from overseas arrivals, the first of which was reported in the southern Guangzhou Travel Center on Saturday, remains very low.
On Monday in Beijing, a person on the spot was infected for the first time by an international traveler who arrived in China. Shanghai reported a similar case and increased the total number of such infections to three.
But the authorities are not taking any chances.
The Beijing city government tightened the quarantine rules for overseas people coming to China and announced on Tuesday that anyone entering the Chinese capital will be subject to centralized quarantine and health controls. [B9N2AR01N]
Those who enter the city and have traveled overseas to China in the past 14 days will also be subjected to a central quarantine and tested for the corona virus, which has killed nearly 3,300 people in mainland China and infected nearly 82,000.
Concerns about new waves of infections
One of China’s four locally transmitted infections on Monday was in Wuhan, capital of central Hubei Province. This is followed by five days without new infections in the city, the epicenter of the outbreak in China.
The newly infected person is a doctor in a Wuhan hospital, according to the local government health commission. You have not ruled out that the doctor was infected in the hospital.
Guangdong reported on Monday a local case related to an infected person from Hubei.
Policy makers are aware of the potential social instability and economic disruption that a new wave of infection could cause, especially in Hubei, where factories and businesses are just starting up again.
A private poll on Tuesday found that a 10-11% drop in gross domestic product in the first quarter was “not inappropriate”.
Many Chinese are still concerned about the possibility of a new wave of infection as more and more people return to work as travel restrictions are eased by slowing infections.
They are also careful about spending too much and worry about job security when the economy slows down.
The epidemic has affected all sectors of the economy – from manufacturing to tourism. In order to persuade companies to reopen, policy makers have pledged loans, grants and subsidies.
In Beijing, the city opens the Badaling section of the Great Wall of China, a crowded part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site.
In impoverished Gansu Province, government officials have to spend at least 200 yuan (US $ 28.25) a week each to help local restaurants recover.
Reporting by Ryan Woo, Lusha Zhang, Huizhong Wu and Se Young Lee; Edited by Kim Coghill and Michael Perry