Chinese asked to stay vigilant as coronavirus cases slow

The Chinese government has also ordered airlines to sharply cut international flights from Sunday, March 29

China's official media told people to stay on guard against the coronavirus on Saturday, and restrictions on foreigners entering went into effect, as the country reported no new locally transmitted infections and a small drop in imported cases.

"At this time, we must be extremely vigilant and cautious, and we must prevent the post-epidemic relaxation from coming too soon, leading to the loss of all our achievements," the Communist Party's official People's Daily newspaper said in a front-page editorial.

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Coronavirus in China

The authorities also reversed planned reopenings of movie theatres, the state-owned China Securities Journal reported, citing sources.

Reuters could not verify the existence of the National Film Administration's order to extend cinema closures, but a man answering the phone at a Wanda Cinemas theatre in Shanghai confirmed it had been ordered to close again.

Theatres in major cities including Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Chongqing, remained closed, searches on an online ticketing platform showed.

Most signs of official concern remain focused on the risk posed by so-called imported virus cases after widespread lockdowns within China helped to sharply reduce domestic transmissions. Effective Saturday, China has suspended the entry of foreign nationals with valid Chinese visas and residence permits.

Beijing has also ordered airlines to sharply cut international flights from Sunday.


China's National Health Commission said on Saturday that 54 new coronavirus cases were reported on the mainland on Friday, all involving so-called imported cases. There were 55 new cases a day earlier, one of which was transmitted locally.

The total number of infections for mainland China now stands at 81,394, with the death toll rising by three to 3,295, the commission said.

Hubei province reported no new cases, and three new deaths. The province of 60 million, where the virus was first detected, has recorded 67,801 coronavirus cases and 3,177 deaths.

Shanghai reported the highest number of new cases, with 17. An additional 11 cases were reported in Guangdong, six in Fujian province, five in Tianjin, four in Zhejiang, three each in Beijing and Liaoning, two each in Inner Mongolia and Jilin, and one in Shandong.

Chinese President Xi Jinping told U.S. President Donald Trump on Friday that China would support U.S. efforts to fight the coronavirus.

The number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in the United States rose by at least 16,000 on Friday to nearly 102,000, the most of any country.

In an interview with the journal Science published on Friday evening, George Gao, the director-general of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, urged people to wear masks to control the virus's spread overseas.

"The big mistake in the U.S. and Europe, in my opinion, is that people aren't wearing masks," Gao said. "Many people have asymptomatic or presymptomatic infections. If they are wearing face masks, it can prevent droplets that carry the virus from escaping and infecting others."

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