China reported 78 new cases of deadly coronavirus on Tuesday, the vast majority of which were imported from abroad amid mounting concerns about a second wave of infections.
The first new case in almost a week was also reported in Wuhan – the epicenter where the virus emerged last year – as well as three other local infections elsewhere in the country.
Seven other people died, said the National Health Commission, all in Wuhan.
But at 74, imported cases confirmed on Tuesday were the highest since authorities began reporting in early March, and nearly double those reported on Monday.
In recent days, almost all of the new infections in China have been imported from abroad, and Beijing is increasingly concerned about an influx just as it seemed to be in control of the country’s epidemic.
As nations around the world fight to contain the pandemic, which has now killed more than 16,000 people worldwide, the number of cases imported to China has climbed to 427.
Many cities have strict rules in place to quarantine new arrivals, and all international flights to Beijing are diverted to other cities where they will be screened for the virus.
State media warned of a second wave of infections on Tuesday, the National Times Global Times warned on the front page that “inadequate quarantine measures” mean that a second wave of infections is “very likely, if not inevitable “.
There are now more than 81,000 cases in China and the death toll has reached 3,277.
As the country tries to control imported cases, signs of normalcy are beginning to return to Wuhan and the surrounding Hubei province, where some 56 million people were detained in January.
Travel and work restrictions in the province have been gradually eased and Chinese President Xi Jinping paid his first visit to Wuhan earlier this month.
Residents of Wuhan who are considered healthy can now move around the city and take public transportation if they have ID, and they can also return to work if they have a permit from their employer.
South Korea’s infection rate slows
On Tuesday, South Korea reported 76 new cases of coronavirus, now a downward trend in new infections, which suggests a slowdown in Asia’s largest epidemic outside of China.
The daily count brought the country’s total infections to 9,037, according to the Korean Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC). The death toll increased from two to 120.
It was the 13th day in a row that the country registered new infections of around 100 or less. South Korea reported its lowest number of new cases on Monday, with a peak of 909 cases recorded on February 29.