A doctor looks at a patient’s CT scan at a hospital in Wuhan, China. File/AFP
China reported just one new domestic case of the coronavirus on Wednesday but a dozen more imported infections.
For the second consecutive day there was only one more fresh infection in Wuhan, the central city where the virus first emerged late last year, the National Health Commission said.
New cases in surrounding Hubei province have now been in the single digits for the past seven days, down from a peak of several thousand per day in early February.
Wuhan and its 11 million people were placed under strict quarantine on January 23, with the rest of Hubei entering lockdown in the following days.
But there has been an easing of restrictions in some parts of the province in recent days, with China saying it has "basically curbed" the spread of the virus.
A number of smaller cities are now allowing healthy people to leave the province to return to work or their hometowns elsewhere.
But imported cases are a rising concern for China, with 12 more reported Wednesday, bringing the total number to 155 and fuelling fears of an influx.
An average of 20,000 people are flying into China every day, according to the government, and 10 Chinese provinces and cities are imposing mandatory quarantines on those arriving from abroad.
Beijing is requiring almost all international arrivals go into a 14-day quarantine at designated hotels in the capital.
Five of the new imported cases reported on Wednesday were in southern Guangdong — China's most populous province, which announced quarantines on Monday. Beijing and Shanghai each had three, and there was one elsewhere.
China also reported 11 deaths Wednesday, raising its toll from the virus to 3,237, and total infections on the mainland reached 80,894.
The head of the World Health Organization-led team in the central Chinese city of Wuhan probing the origins of COVID-19 said on Tuesday that cold chain transmission of the virus is a possibility and warrants further investigation.
The group was driven to the Jinyintan Hospital, one of the city’s first to deal with patients in early 2020 suffering from a then-unknown virus, as the horrors of the virus emerged in the central Chinese city.
The mission, delayed by China and weighed down by political baggage, has a remit to explore how the virus jumped from animal to human. Experts say the Huanan market still plays a role in tracing the origins of the virus, since the first cluster of cases was identified there.
Most scientists reject the hypothesis, but some speculate that a virus captured from the wild could have figured in experiments at the lab to test the risks of a human spillover and then escaped via an infected staff member.
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