• For the second day in a row, no new locally transmitted coronavirus cases were reported in mainland China - outside of Hubei province.
  • Officials have warned against complacency though.
  • Measures remain in place across the country to control the spread of the disease.

Mainland China, outside Hubei province, reported no new locally transmitted coronavirus cases for the second day on Monday, as a top Communist Party official warned against reducing vigilance and of the risk the epidemic poses for social stability.

Workers in protective suits remove bed linen inside a closed makeshift hospital which had been converted from a sports stadium, following its last group of patients with coronavirus have been discharged, in Wuhan, the epicentre of coronavirus outbreak, in Hubei province, China March 8, 2020. China Daily via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. CHINA OUT. - RC2LFF9KU21W
Workers in protective suits remove bed linen inside a closed makeshift hospital.
Image: REUTERS/ China Daily

China had 40 new confirmed cases of coronavirus infections as of Sunday, the National Health Commission said, down from 44 cases a day earlier, and the lowest number since the health authority started publishing nationwide data on Jan. 20.

Of the new cases, 36 were in Wuhan, the provincial capital of Hubei, while the remaining four in Gansu province were imported from Iran.

Despite the positive news, Chen Yixin, secretary general of the Communist Party’s Politics and Law Commission, said no one should let their guard down.

“We must stay cautious, not be blindly optimistic and must not have war-weariness,” Chen said.

“We should not reduce the vigilance against the epidemic and the requirements of prevention and control.”

The coronavirus emerged in the central province of Hubei late last year. The new cases on Sunday brought the total accumulated number of cases in mainland China to 80,735.

While the domestic spread of the virus has significantly slowed in recent days, authorities are mindful of risks stemming from people - foreigners and Chinese nationals - traveling back to China from new hot spots abroad.

China’s total number of imported cases hit 67 with the four Gansu cases.

Zhong Nanshan, head of the National Health Commission’s team investigating the novel coronavirus outbreak, said it would persist globally until at least June, media reported.

Shanghai stepped up airport screening over the weekend as worry about imported infections from countries such as Italy and Iran grew.

There is also concern about the tens of millions of migrant workers returning to offices, malls and factories, triggering a new round of infections.

Chen acknowledged that while the outbreak in Wuhan was improving, control and prevention work was still arduous, according to a statement posted on his commission’s Wechat account on Monday.

Chen said epidemics may bring risks to social stability and recommended that the government took precautions and made early plans to ensure peace and stability.

Wuhan airport eyes reopening

Meanwhile, public facilities are slowly getting back to normal.

Community workers in protective suits disinfect a residential compound in Wuhan, the epicentre of the novel coronavirus outbreak, Hubei province, China March 6, 2020.
Community workers in protective suits disinfect a residential compound in Wuhan.
Image: REUTERS/Stringer

Wuhan’s Tianhe International Airport said in a statement it was preparing to resume work, taking measures such as staff training, equipment maintenance and security inspections. It did not give a date for the resumption of commercial operations.

Walt Disney Co’s Shanghai Disneyland said it would partly resume operations in a first step of a phased reopening, though the main theme park would stay shut.

The resort has been closed since Jan. 25.

Trip.com, China’s largest online travel firm, said in an internal letter its senior executives were taking a pay cut of up to half their salaries, while chief executive Jane Sun and Chairman James Liang would stop taking salaries from March, to help the company weather the impact of the outbreak.

As of Sunday, 58,600 patients had been discharged from Chinese hospitals. Authorities are aware of the potential for re-infection and have told recently discharged patients to go into quarantine for 14 days.

On Saturday, a small hotel used to quarantine people under observation in Fujian province collapsed, killing 11. Of the 71 people inside the hotel in Quangzhou city at the time of the collapse, 58 were in under quarantine, the Quangzhou city government said.

The death toll from the outbreak in mainland China reached 3,119 as of the end of Sunday, up 22 from the previous day.

Hubei, the center of the outbreak, reported 21 new deaths. In Wuhan city, 18 people died.

Total deaths outside of mainland China have surpassed 500, with most in Italy and Iran. Cases are increasing in other countries, including the United States.