BEIJING/SHANGHAI (Reuters) – China reported on Tuesday another rise in confirmed coronavirus cases as infections from abroad made it increasingly hard for authorities to reduce the overall number of new infections to zero.
People wear protective face masks on a bus following an outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in downtown Shanghai, China March 16, 2020. REUTERS/Aly Song
Mainland China had 21 new confirmed cases on Monday, the National Health Commission said, up from 16 a day earlier. Of the new cases, 20 involved infected travelers arriving in China from abroad.
In contrast, mainland China only had one case of locally transmitted infection on Monday, in Wuhan, capital of central Hubei province where the flu-like disease appeared in humans late last year.
While the coronavirus was first discovered last year in Wuhan, where officials initially tried to cover up the outbreak, China has sought to emphasize the positive role it has played in controlling the global spread of the disease.
An editorial in the official China Daily on Tuesday said the rest of the world should learn from China and follow the principles of early detection, early quarantine and early treatment in order to halt the global spread of the disease.
However, many senior U.S. government officials, including President Donald Trump, continue to refer to COVID-19 as the “Chinese virus”, aggravating Chinese authorities.
Top Chinese diplomat Yang Jiechi told U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Monday that attempts by U.S. politicians to denigrate China’s efforts to curb the coronavirus would not succeed, and could lead to retaliation.
The tally of confirmed U.S. cases has multiplied rapidly in recent few weeks, exceeding 4,300. At least 80 people in the United States have died of the virus.
China said the number of infections imported from other countries surpassed local transmissions for a fourth day.
Beijing accounted for nine of the imported new cases, and Shanghai had three, while six other provinces also reported new infections, bringing the total number of imported cases in mainland China so far to 143.
The Chinese capital has been the worst-hit even as it erected tough restrictions to screen out and isolate infections.
Beijing Capital International Airport has cordoned off a special zone for all international flights, with all disembarking passengers required to take health check-ups.
Transit passengers will be sent to their connecting flights, while non-transit passengers will be shuttled to a nearby processing venue from which they will be sent to designated places for compulsory 14-day quarantines.
Beijing has also redirected all international flights scheduled to land at its new Daxing airport in the south to the older Capital International Airport in the northeast.
The global tally of confirmed cases has exceeded 170,000, with China now accounting for less than half of that. The overall number of infections in mainland China stood at 80,881 as of Monday.
In China, the death toll had reached 3,226, up by 13 from the previous day.
Reporting by Ryan Woo, Se Young Lee and David Stanway; Editing by Kim Coghill, Stephen Coates and Lincoln Feast.