China lifts coronavirus lockdown on 50 million people in Hubei
BEIJING : China announced yesterday that a lockdown would be lifted on more than 50 million people in central Hubei province, where the coronavirus first emerged late last year.
But fears rose over a second wave of infections in the country fuelled by people arriving from overseas.
After two months living with draconian curbs on daily life, residents will be allowed to leave Hubei from midnight yesterday if healthy, said provincial authorities.
Wuhan city - the initial epicentre of the outbreak - will end restrictions from April 8.
Hubei ordered the shutdown in January, but has been gradually easing rules and permitting people to move about within the province and return to work.
New cases have slowed dramatically over the last month, although the first locally transmitted infection in nearly a week was reported in Wuhan yesterday, along with three cases elsewhere in China.
The figures pale in comparison with imported cases, fuelling anxiety about a possible second wave of infections just as the outbreak appeared to be coming under control.
Seven more people died, all in Wuhan, the National Health Commission said.
Yesterday's 74 new imported cases were the most since officials started reporting the data at the beginning of this month, and nearly double Monday's figure.
As nations across the globe battle to contain the pandemic, China's tally of imported cases soared to 427.
Most of them - 380 people - were returning Chinese nationals, the foreign ministry said.
Many cities have brought in tough rules to quarantine arrivals, and all Beijing-bound international flights are being diverted to other urban centres where passengers are screened for the virus.
There have been more than 81,000 cases of Covid-19 in China and 3,277 deaths from the virus.
South Korea saw 76 new cases yesterday, maintaining a downward trend in new infections which raised hopes that Asia's largest outbreak outside China may be slowing.
The daily tally brought the country's total infections to 9,037, according to the Korea Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.
The death toll rose by two to 120. - AFP, REUTERS