By Javier Triana
Beijing, Mar 11 (efe-epa).- China announced on Wednesday that it would send a team of experts to Italy to help it tackle the crisis caused by the new coronavirus epidemic, even as the number of daily cases released by Beijing showed a slight increase due to patients arriving from abroad.
Foreign ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said that Beijing was making preparations to send medical experts to Italy – the second largest epicenter of the disease after China – to help with the prevention and control efforts.
Foreign Minister Wang Yi had released a statement late on Tuesday saying that despite tremendous domestic demand, China would supply masks to Italy and “double efforts” to export materials of “maximum necessity” at the request of Italian authorities.
The announcement comes at a time when Chinese authorities would like to believe that the worst of the outbreak within its borders has passed.
However, latest figures of the National Health Commission on Wednesday showed 24 fresh cases and 22 deaths, with both figures registering an increase of 5 from a day before.
Health authorities said that 10 of the 24 new patients had arrived in China from abroad, a rise from 2 such cases registered on Tuesday.
Currently, 16,145 active patients of COVID-19 have been registered in the country, including 4,492 in a critical state. Another 285 people are suspected of having contracted the virus.
Total coronavirus deaths in the country now total 3,158, while the number of cases diagnosed so far sits at 80,778. Out of these 61,745 have been declared cured.
Leading Chinese epidemiologist and pulmonologist Zhong Nanshan said that the strict measure implemented in the country for fighting the disease should be maintained until April, as they had helped in containing and controlling the epidemic from spreading.
Local media reports said that a team led by Zhong had invented a new method of detecting the virus within 15 minutes through a blood test.
However, a gradual easing of the restrictions has been reported from different parts of the country after the number of daily new cases has declined in the last few days.
On Wednesday the eastern Shandong province announced that it was restoring the provincial inter-city bus services, suspended in many regions, after reducing its health emergency to level 2 on 7 March.
The official order said that transporting passengers who have been to the Hubei province – the worst-hit region where the disease originated from – would continue to be prohibited.
Meanwhile prevention measures were widened on Wednesday in Hong Kong, where at least 3 people have died out of the total 126 patients of COVID-19 detected so far.
From Saturday onwards the semi-autonomous city would enforce a mandatory 14-day quarantine on any person arriving from Italy and specific regions of France, Germany, Japan and Spain.
The measure affects all travelers – without distinguishing between city residents and non-residents – who have been to areas of “significant threat” notified by the authorities within the 14 days prior to their entry.
David Hui, an expert in respiratory diseases at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, recommended on Wednesday that the region’s educational institutions be opened only after fresh local infections are not reported for four consecutive weeks. EFE-EPA