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China reports just 1 new domestic virus case, 20 more imported

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Workers wear suits as a preventive measure against the COVID-19 coronavirus as they wait for travellers outside the New China International Exhibition Centre, near Beijing Capital Airport in Beijing on March 17, 2020. – The exhibition center is being used as a registration and screening center for travellers arriving in Beijing before transferring them to quarantine locations. Authorities have now ordered international arrivals into the nation’s capital from March 16 onwards to go into centralised quarantine locations for 14 days. (Photo by GREG BAKER / AFP)

China reported on Tuesday just one new domestic coronavirus infection but found 20 more cases imported from abroad, threatening to spoil its progress against the disease.

The single case in Wuhan will boost China’s view that it has “basically curbed” the spread of a disease that is believed to have emerged in a live animal market in the central city in December.

Wuhan and its 11 million people were placed under strict quarantine on January 23, with the rest of Hubei province going under lockdown in the following days.

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Authorities tightened restrictions in the city even further on February 11, confining people to their homes as health workers faced a daily deluge of well over 1,000 cases — a move officials say was critical in containing the virus.

Other cities across the country enacted further measures to compel most people to stay indoors, and no new domestic infections have been detected outside Hubei for many days in a row.

But the country is now concerned about an influx of cases from abroad, with an average of 20,000 people flying into China every day.

Beijing started on Monday to require almost all international arrivals to go into 14-day quarantine in designated hotels.

People who live alone, minors, the elderly, pregnant women and people with underlying conditions are allowed to confine themselves at home.

Shanghai extended its mandatory quarantine to travellers from 16 countries on Tuesday — including the US, Australia and several European nations — but said travellers may quarantine either at home or at a designated location.

Nine of the 20 new imported cases were in Beijing and three in Shanghai, raising the total number of confirmed infections from abroad to 143, according to the National Health Commission.

China also reported 13 deaths, raising its toll to 3,226.

The country has recorded 80,881 total cases, but fewer than 9,000 people remain infected.

The country’s progress stands in stark contrast with the growing crisis in other countries, with the World Health Organization saying there were now more deaths and cases outside China.

The number of deaths worldwide has passed 7,000, with more than 181,500 cases in 145 countries.

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