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Fears of 2nd Wave of Covid-19 Infections Grow in China

The first new case in nearly a week was reported in Wuhan, where the virus emerged, along with three other local infections elsewhere in China

Beijing| China reported 78 new cases of the coronavirus on Tuesday, with the vast majority brought in from overseas as fears rise of a second wave of infections.

The first new case in nearly a week was also reported in Wuhan – the epicentre where the virus emerged last year – along with three other local infections elsewhere in the country.

Seven more people died, the National Health Commission said, all in Wuhan.

The 74 imported cases confirmed Tuesday were the highest since officials started reporting the data at the beginning of March, and nearly double those reported Monday.

In recent days almost all new infections in China have been brought in from overseas, and authorities are increasingly anxious about an influx just as it appeared to be bringing the country’s outbreak under control.

As nations across the globe battle to contain the pandemic, which has now killed more than 16,500 people worldwide, the tally of imported cases in China has soared to 427.

While the outbreak’s epicentre has shifted to Europe, where there are now more cases being reported daily than at the height of China’s crisis, epidemiologists warn that the Asian giant could face subsequent waves of infections, based on patterns seen in other pandemics.

The nature of this particular virus also raises the risk of a resurgence. The coronavirus is harder to detect and lingers longer than the one that caused Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome in 2003, which infected 8,000 people before fading out. That will make future waves of the new pandemic more difficult to prevent.

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As other countries wrestle with how far to close down civic life, they’ll be watching China, where the virus first emerged last December, to see what happens when it lifts the harsh lockdowns and social distancing measures that have helped curb its outbreak.

Many cities have brought in tough rules to quarantine new arrivals, and all Beijing-bound international flights are being diverted to other cities where they will be screened for the virus.

State media warned Tuesday of the second wave of infections, with the nationalistic Global Times warning on its front page that “inadequate quarantine measures” mean a second wave of infections is “highly likely, even inevitable.”

There have now been over 81,000 cases in China, and the death toll has reached 3,277.

As the country tries to control imported cases, there are signs of normality beginning to return to Wuhan and the surrounding Hubei province, where some 56 million people were placed under lockdown in January.

Travel and work restrictions in the area have been gradually eased and Chinese President Xi Jinping made his first visit to Wuhan earlier this month.

Wuhan residents considered healthy can now move around the city and take public transport if they show identification, and they can also go back to work if they have a permit from their employer.

AFP

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