The number of new deaths has been trending downwards in China since the beginning of March. That picture stands in contrast with the U.S. and parts of Europe, where the pandemic is still rampant, and infections and death tolls are still growing, and neighboring Japan, which is expected to declare a state of emergency later Tuesday. The global number of coronavirus deaths is over 70,000.
Mainland China has recorded 81,740 COVID-19 cases, and a total of 3,331 deaths from the disease.
Severe lockdowns, which slowed the progress of the disease in many parts of China, are now slowly being lifted. People are returning to their workplaces in the major cities. Other internal restrictions remain in place, however, including a ban on cinemas reopening.
Chinese authorities are now afraid of a new wave of infections, brought into the country by Chinese nationals returning home from abroad, and imported by foreigners. Despite this, the country is continuing with repatriation flights for its estimated 1.6 million nationals currently overseas.
Mainland China witnessed 32 new cases of imported infection on Monday, the National Health Commission said. Most are believed to have arrived from Russia. They bring the total number of known imported cases to 983. Of these, nearly 700 remain in hospital, with 21 in severe condition.
On Monday, testing also revealed 30 asymptomatic cases – people who have been infected, but show no symptoms — the commission reported on Tuesday. Figures for Sunday revealed 78 asymptomatic cases. Many of these have been uncovered in Wuhan, the city which was the original center of the outbreak. That has caused authorities to cancel the disease-free status accorded to more than 40 buildings in Wuhan.
The existence of the asymptomatic cases and the continuing trickle of imported infections of the virus are causing China to increase its external border controls, despite the slowing rate of new cases overall.
Premier Li Keqiang said on Monday that land borders will be tightened, and that people giving false information about their health or travel history potentially face a battery of charges, fines and social restrictions.