BEIJING • China yesterday reported the biggest daily rise in coronavirus cases since Feb 22, as more infections emerged among prison inmates in the epicentre of the outbreak, but officials emphasised the overall situation continues to improve.
A total of 573 new infections were reported on Saturday, compared with 427 a day earlier, according to the National Health Commission. Some 565 of these were in Wuhan, where the outbreak emerged late last year.
The official China News wire service reported that 233 of the Wuhan cases were from the city's prison system.
The 35 new deaths on Saturday were the second lowest daily total last month and down from 47 the previous day.
There were also only three new cases outside Hubei province, of which Wuhan is the capital, the lowest since the commission began tracking daily cases on Jan 20.
A total of 2,870 people have died from the outbreak in mainland China and close to 80,000 have been infected by the coronavirus.
Chinese officials have reiterated that efforts to curb the outbreak are achieving positive results, with the daily new cases being reported trending lower in recent weeks.
To cushion the economic impact of the epidemic, China has ordered districts to be classified into "high-risk", "medium-risk" and "low-risk", with the latter expected to end traffic curbs and let everyone resume work.
On Saturday, Hubei said 11 of its 103 counties had reported no new cases for at least 14 days, meeting "low-risk" criteria. But as many as 58 of its counties are still deemed "high-risk".
China needs to take a long-term view of the outbreak and plug loopholes in its laws and emergency response mechanisms, President Xi Jinping said in speeches published in the Communist Party's theoretical journal, Qiushi (Seeking Truth), yesterday.
The country must set up an emergency reserve and supply system to ensure vital materials are deployed at critical times, he added.
Foreign Ministry official Cui Aimin also said yesterday that China will take steps to bring back citizens from high-risk countries if necessary. He said Beijing has arranged 10 flights to bring home 1,314 people so far, but did not name any countries.