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COVID-19: Mainland China excluding Hubei reports only four new cases

15:31 | 29/02/2020

Mainland China excluding Hubei province, where the new coronavirus outbreak originated, reported four new cases of infection on Friday (Feb 28), the lowest since the national health authority started compiling nationwide data in January.

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A woman wearing a protective mask is seen in Shanghai, China, as the country is hit by a novel coronavirus outbreak, at the Pudong financial district in Shanghai, China February 28, 2020. REUTERS/Aly Song TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

The central province of Hubei reported 423 new confirmed cases on Friday, the National Health Commission said on Saturday, up from 318 a day earlier.

That pushed the overall number of new infections on Friday in mainland China to 427, data from the health authority showed.

Of the new cases in Hubei, 420 were reported in the provincial capital of Wuhan, the city hardest-hit by the outbreak.

China has imposed tough measures to contain the pathogen including strict home quarantines, curbs on people and vehicle traffic, and the extension of the Lunar New Year holiday that shuttered businesses and factories.

In the first official snapshot of the economic impact of such restrictions, the national statistics bureau reported on Saturday a record pace of contraction in manufacturing activity in February.

China's economy will take a big hit in the first quarter due to work stoppages, but should recover rapidly unless the outbreak worsens again, a Chinese official told Reuters on Friday.

The International Monetary Fund has said the outbreak will likely lower China's economic growth by 0.4 percentage point this year to 5.6 per cent and shave 0.1 percentage point from global growth.

The new infections on Friday bring the total accumulated number of confirmed cases in mainland China so far to 79,251.

The death toll from the outbreak in China reached 2,835 as of the end of Friday, up by 47 from the previous day. Hubei province reported 45 new deaths, while in provincial capital Wuhan 37 people died.

As new daily infections in China slow, the government has urged businesses and factories in regions that are considered low-risk to resume production and safeguard jobs.

Seventeen provinces, regions and municipalities have lowered their emergency response level so far, including big coastal provinces such as Guangdong and Jiangsu.

Beijing and Shanghai have yet to downgrade their emergency measures from the highest level.

In contrast, the coronavirus continued to expand its footprint around the world, with at least six countries on four continents reporting new cases for the first time on Friday.

The coronavirus has spread to more than 25 countries and is causing mounting alarm due to new pockets of outbreaks in Europe, the Middle East, and Asia.

South Korea reported a jump in cases Saturday and now has 2,931. It's one of the worst-hit places outside of China.

The risk of a global spread and impact of the coronavirus is now "very high", the highest level of alarm, the World Health Organization said./.

VNF/AFP