BEIJING: China reported a second day of new cases of coronavirus in Wuhan on Monday after a month without new infections at the pandemic’s global epicentre, offering a stark warning of the dangers of a fresh wave.
The virus first emerged late last year, sweeping through the city and surrounding Hubei province, killing thousands and sickening many more and has subsequently spread around the world.
Authorities in Wuhan imposed strict restrictions on travel and movement in what appeared to have been a successful bid to quash the outbreak. The lockdown began to ease in recent weeks, as authorities said the disease was under control, with children returning to school and travel to and from the city allowed.
On Sunday, local authorities acknowledged one person had tested positive for the virus in Wuhan, and a day later, they said there were five more cases. Local health officials said the new cases were all from the same residential compound, mostly older people.
There were also eleven new asymptomatic cases reported in Hubei province. China records symptomatic and asymptomatic cases separately. Health experts warn that a hasty return to normal could spark a second wave of infections and point out that restrictions will have to remain until there is a vaccine.
The new cases in China on Monday also include five in the northeast. At least eleven cases connected to a local laundry worker were reported over the weekend, prompting the citywide lockdown of Shulan, with a population of around 670,000 people.
The virus has now infected more than four million people worldwide, claiming more than 280,000 lives, and has crippled the global economy. The total number infected in China is around 83,000, with more than 4,600 dead.
No new deaths have been reported nationwide for nearly a month with life in China gradually returning to normal after months of disruption. Shanghai Disneyland reopened on Monday, while the national government allowed cinemas and sports venues to reopen last week.
China has faced criticism both at home and abroad for downplaying the virus and concealing information about the outbreak when it first emerged in Wuhan.
There has been doubts over the official toll while China has insisted it has always shared information with the World Health Organisation and other countries in a timely manner.