(Update 1: adds detail)
Beijing, March 19 (efe-epa).- China reported its first day of zero local coronavirus infections, health authorities reported on Thursday, while a new study showed that the mortality rate due to the disease in Wuhan could be significantly lower than initial estimates.
The National Health Commission said that by midnight local time (16.00 GMT Wednesday), no local infections had been recorded throughout the Chinese territory.
Authorities said the 34 cases that were reported in that period were all imported and were travelers from other countries and regions affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.
The 34 imported infections were registered in Beijing (21), Canton (9), Shanghai (2), Heilongjiang (1) and Zhejiang (1).
On the day China hit an encouraging coronavirus milestone, health authorities reported that eight people had died of Covid-19 pneumonia, all of them in the province of Hubei, in the central-eastern part of the country which is the epicenter of the outbreak.
The latest data places the total number of infections in China at 80,928 since respiratory disease first emerged. Of those 70,420 have responded positively to treatment and have since been discharged. The death toll stands at 3,245.
The number of active infections in China currently is 7,263. Of those, 2,314 people are in a serious condition (2,222 of them in Wuhan, the capital of Hubei).
China has implemented a strict regime of monitoring anyone who has been in close contact with infected persons. So far 683,281 people have been in close contact with a diagnosed Covid-19 patient, of which 9,144 are still under observation.
Of the people who are still under observation, 105 are suspected of having been infected with the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus.
Since 11 March, the number of reported infections and deaths has remained at or below 21 daily, according to official data.
A day later, on 12 March, the Chinese government declared that the peak of transmissions had come to an end in the Asian country.
Meanwhile a study published in the journal Nature Medicine on Thursday said that the mortality rate in Wuhan had been 1.4 percent until the end of February, much lower than initial estimates.
According to the research, headed by Joseph Wu of the University of Hong Kong, 79,394 confirmed cases of the disease and 2,838 deaths had been registered in China by 29 February, out of which Wuhan accounted for 48,557 and 2,169 respectively.
Compared to people between the age of 30 and 59 years, the younger and older population had respectively 0.6 and 5.1 times chances of dying after developing symptoms.
The researchers also found that the risk of symptomatic infection increased with age, growing by 4 percent with every year in adults between the age of 30 and 60.
The conclusions of the study, which relied on publicly accessible data sources – newspapers, press releases and reports by public health bodies – show that the risk of death in symptomatic cases could be “substantially less” than estimated so far, especially with respect to the crude mortality rate.
Estimating the clinical severity of a new pathogen is a key priority for public health and the information affects decisions on classification of the patients and their diagnosis, especially in places without easy access to laboratories or where hospitals have reached their capacity.
The symptoms of the new coronavirus are in many cases similar to those of a cold, but may be accompanied by fever and fatigue, dry cough and dyspnea (shortness of breath). EFE-EPA