China Reported Zero Local Coronavirus Infections In The Outbreak Epicenter
The news comes as Europe and North America aim to control a consistent rise in COVID-19 cases with travel bans and other mitigation measures.
China reported on March 19 no new locally transmitted cases from the previous day for the first time since January in the city of Wuhan, the original epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak. Only last month, confirmed cases were increasing in the city and surrounding region by thousands a day, Chinese health authorities said.
Wuhan has become something of a global case study, as the coronavirus pandemic has caused states of emergency on several other continents. While the numbers could reflect results of a stringent lockdown strategy in China, the country is reportedly not out of danger yet — and the government has still come under fire for its initial mismanagement and downplaying of the outbreak.
The news comes as Europe and North America aim to control a consistent rise in COVID-19 cases with travel bans and other relief measures. The number of deaths in Italy, which has been on nationwide lockdown for more than a week, also surpassed China’s 3,130 fatalities on March 19. Italy has seen at least 3,405 reported deaths from COVID-19, according to Johns Hopkins.
As of March 19, there have been at least 227,740 coronavirus cases confirmed globally, including at least 9,318 deaths and more than 84,500 recoveries. Of those global cases, more than 81,150 have been confirmed in China.
Chinese authorities said all 34 new cases that were detected in Wuhan on March 19 came from people who had been abroad, rather than cases that were locally transmitted. The capital city also reported eight new deaths.
“Today, we have seen the dawn after so many days of hard effort,” said senior National Health Commission inspector Jiao Yahui in a statement described by the Associated Press.
China has been reporting a gradual slowdown of confirmed cases in recent weeks.
World Health Organization Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on March 9 that of the 80,000 then-detected cases in China, more than 70% of patients had recovered and been discharged.
On March 11, China’s Hubei province also reported just eight new cases, which was the first time since the health crisis started that the province had taken in fewer than 10 patients in a day.
Even as China reports a slowdown in coronavirus cases, the virus was categorized as a pandemic by the WHO only last week, as cases continue to increase around the world, and testing is still limited in countries like the U.S.. WHO officials have emphasized the declaration has not been intended to instill more fear.
This story has been updated.