China reports major drop in new virus cases; 143 new deaths
By YANAN WANG
BEIJING (AP) - China reported Saturday a figure of 2,641 new virus cases, a major drop from the higher numbers in recent days since a broader diagnostic method was implemented.
The number of new deaths rose slightly to 143, bringing the total fatalities in mainland China to 1,523. The total number of confirmed cases in the country now stands at 66,492, according to a notice from China's National Health Commission.
COVID-19, a disease stemming from a new form of coronavirus, has spread to more than 24 countries since December, when the first infections appeared in central China.
China has implemented unprecedented measures in a sweeping campaign to contain the virus. At the outbreak's epicenter in the central province of Hubei, cities with a combined population of more than 60 million have been placed under lockdown, with outbound transportation halted and virtually all public activities suspended.
People returning to Beijing will now have to isolate themselves either at home or in a concentrated area for medical observation, said a notice from the Chinese capital's prevention and control work group published by state media late Friday.
The notice warns there will be legal consequences for those who don't comply with the 14-day quarantine. It did not elaborate on how the isolation will be enforced. While Beijing returnees were previously ordered to “self-quarantine” for two weeks, that measure allowed for occasional outings and implementation varied across neighborhoods.
Chinese officials have warned that COVID-19 may spread further as migrants return to their jobs in cities or other provinces after a prolonged Lunar New Year holiday.
Associated Press researcher Henry Hou contributed to this report.
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