Mainland China reported its first case of locally transmitted coronavirus in three days and 54 new imported cases, while Beijing has ordered airlines to cut international flights sharply, fearing that travelers will reignite the coronavirus epidemic.
The 55 new cases reported on Thursday were down from 67 the previous day, the National Health Commission announced on Friday. There are now 81,340 confirmed cases in mainland China.
The death toll is 3,292 with five new deaths.
Imported coronavirus cases, mostly returning Chinese nationals, are now the main concern of the authorities.
Shanghai reported the highest number of new imported cases with 17, followed by 12 in Guangdong and four in the capital Beijing and nearby Tianjin.
Hubei Province, an area of some 60 million people where the virus first appeared at the end of last year, did not report any new cases on Thursday – one day after the isolation was lifted and the reopening of its borders while the epidemic was easing there.
Chinaon on Thursday ordered local airlines to maintain only one route to any country and to limit flights to those routes to one per week, effective March 29. Foreign airlines have also been ordered to cut routes to Chino and limit flights to one per week, although many have already stopped flying to China.
China will temporarily suspend the entry of foreigners with Chinese visas and residence permits effective March 28, as an interim measure, the Foreign Ministry said on Thursday.