China signals progress

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China closed most of its makeshift hospitals for coronavirus patients, some schools reopened and Disney resort staff went back to work yesterday as normality slowly returns to the country after weeks battling the epidemic.

New virus cases in China — which accounts for the vast majority of the more than 1,00,000 infections worldwide — have declined in recent weeks in a sign the country’s unprecedented lockdown measures are working.

The improving situation stands in stark contrast with the growing global spread of the disease that has affected scores of countries and prompted some governments to impose their own draconian measures and quarantines.

China reported 40 new infections nationwide yesterday — the smallest increase since the country began reporting the data in January.

Nearly all the fresh cases and 22 new deaths were in Wuhan, the capital of central Hubei province, which has been under lockdown for weeks. The latest fatalities bring the country’s death toll to 3,119.

In Wuhan, 14 of 16 makeshift hospitals that were converted from public facilities including stadiums and schools were shuttered by yesterday, the official Xinhua news agency reported.

The Jianghan hospital, housed in an international exhibition centre, was the latest to close yesterday, Xinhua said. The last two are expected to shutter today. About 12,000 people were treated in the jury-rigged facilities.

Meanwhile, some regions are gearing up to reopen schools this week, after more than a month of closures across the country.

The number of cases of coronavirus worldwide has crossed 1,11,300 people in 109 countries and territories with more than 3,800 dead, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University yesterday.

There are now a total of 1,112 confirmed cases in Germany, with the region of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) reporting 484 infections — the highest number among the country’s 16 states.

India has banned all foreign cruise ships from its ports, with one European vessel turned away from Mangalore in the south at the weekend, officials said yesterday. The number of infected people in the country has risen to 43.

The number of US coronavirus cases soared past 500 Sunday, including two further deaths, as California braced for the arrival of infected cruise ship passengers and saw a major tennis event cancelled.

France has banned gatherings of more than 1,000 people to try and slow the spread of COVID-19, the health minister said, while the number of French lawmakers infected with the virus rose to four.

Iran yesterday reported 43 new deaths from the novel coronavirus in the past 24 hours, bringing the overall toll to 237 dead.

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