China registers first local Covid-19 infection in 3 days as Beijing curbs international travel in hopes of halting imported cases

Chinese customs officials in Chengdu, Sichuan province, China March 26, 2020. / Free

China reported its first locally transmitted coronavirus infection in half a week as officials continue to struggle with cases coming from abroad. Beijing has cut the number of flights allowed in and out of the country.

Fifty-five new Covid-19 cases were reported across mainland China on Thursday, according to the latest figures from the country’s National Health Commission. All but one of the infections involved imported cases.

While China has been largely successful in stopping the spread of the virus, the country has wrestled with cases arriving from abroad. Beijing announced on Thursday that Chinese airlines will be allowed to maintain only one route to any country, and also placed restrictions on the number of flights per week. The new measures will go into effect on March 29. Similar policies were imposed on foreign airlines operating in the country.

China now has 81,340 infections, with its death toll at 3,292, according to the government’s tally. The pandemic, believed to have started in Wuhan, Hubei province, is close to being completely contained in China, but there are still worries that imported cases could spark a new wave.

Cases worldwide surpassed 500,000 on Thursday, resulting in 24,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University. The United States, with 86,000 infections, has overtaken China as the country with the highest number of confirmed cases.

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