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China sees drop in new virus cases, but more deaths abroad

China sees drop in new virus 
cases, but more deaths abroad

AFP
Beijing
China on Thursday touted a big drop in new virus infections as proof its epidemic control efforts are working, but the toll grew abroad with deaths in Japan and South Korea.
Fatalities in China hit 2,118 as 114 more people died, but health officials reported the lowest number of new cases in nearly a month, including in hardest-hit Hubei province.
More than 74,000 people have been infected by the new coronavirus in China, and hundreds more in over 25 countries. The number of deaths outside mainland China climbed to 11.
Japan’s toll rose to three as a man and a woman in their 80s who had been aboard a quarantined cruise ship died, while fears there mounted about other passengers who disembarked the Diamond Princess after testing negative.
South Korea reported its first death, and the number of infections in the country nearly doubled on Thursday to 104 -- including 15 at a hospital in Cheongdo county.
The mayor of Daegu -- South Korea’s fourth-largest, with 2.5 million people -- advised residents to stay indoors, while commanders at a major US military base in the area restricted access.
Iran reported two deaths on Wednesday, the first in the Middle East. Deaths have previously been confirmed in France, the Philippines, Taiwan and Hong Kong.
Chinese officials say their drastic containment efforts, including quarantining tens of millions of people in Hubei and restricting movements in cities nationwide, have started to pay off.
“Results show that our control efforts are working,” Foreign Minister Wang Yi said at a special meeting on the virus with Southeast Asian counterparts in Laos, citing the latest data.
Wang said the situation was “significantly improving” in Hubei and Wuhan, but an official in a central government team dealing with the epidemic said it was still “very severe”.
Although more than 600 new infections were reported in Hubei’s capital Wuhan, it was the lowest daily tally since late January and well down from the 1,749 new cases the day before.
The national figure has now fallen for three straight days.
Chinese authorities placed the city of 11 million under quarantine on January 23 and quickly locked down the rest of the province in the days that followed.
Wuhan authorities this week carried out a three-day, door-to-door check on residents, with the local Communist Party chief warning that officials would be “held accountable” if any infections were missed.
Cities far from the epicentre have limited the number of people who can leave their homes for groceries, while rural villages have sealed off access to outsiders.

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