WHO says 'no time for complacency' as China virus cases fall

Virus may end 'by end of March': Chinese diplomat

Earliest vaccine to be submitted for trials in late April

A continued decline in the number of new cases of coronavirus infections in China is encouraging, the World Health Organization said but it is too early to know if this trend will continue.

"We are encouraged by this trend but this is no time for complacency," the WHO's Ghebreyesus told a briefing in Geneva.

He noted that the number of coronavirus cases in the rest of world was very low compared inside China, but added: "That may not stay the same for very long".

China touted a big drop in new cases of the coronavirus as a sign it has contained the epidemic, but fears grew abroad after two former passengers of a quarantined cruise ship died in Japan and a cluster of infections increased in South Korea.

Chinese officials said this week their drastic containment efforts including quarantining tens of millions of people in Hubei and restricting movements in cities nationwide have started to pay off.

"Results show that our control efforts are working," Foreign Minister Wang Yi said at a special meeting on the virus with Southeast Asian counterparts in Laos.

"China's forceful action has contained the spread of the virus inside China and also the spread of the virus to other parts of the world," Wang said, adding the country "has the capacity and determination to overcome this outbreak at an early date".

However, after the warning by the global health body, mainland China had 118 new deaths from the coronavirus outbreak by the end of Thursday, the national health commission reported on Friday, pushing the number of deaths nationwide to at least 2,236.

Beijing also reported 1,109 new confirmed cases of the disease during the same period, sharply up from 349 cases the previous day, reversing three days of decline.

At least 631 of the new cases were from the epicentre of the epidemic in Hubei, including 220 cases from the province's prison system. Most of the latest deaths were also from the province. 

The latest number of infections nationwide has now reached 75,685 while the number of recorded deaths nationwide as at Thursday is 2,236.

Meanwhile, after a fresh reports of the Chines virus, South Korean capital Seoul has banned rallies in major downtown areas in efforts to fight the viral outbreak.

The news comes as the country reports 52 new cases of infections, raising its total to 156, after declaring the southern city of Daegu a special zone following an explosion of infections.

Virus may end 'by end of March': Chinese diplomat

China's Consulate General in Karachi, Pakistan said experts in China believe the "peak of the epidemic (had) already arrived" and it could be over by the end of March.

"I have seen that according to the experts in China, they are saying the peak of the epidemic has already arrived and it will come down no matter from the epicentre and across the whole of China," Li Bijian said.

"This will [be] coming down this week and next week and the epidemic maybe go over by the end of March," he added.

Earliest vaccine to be submitted for trials in late April

The earliest vaccine for the coronavirus that has killed more than 2,000 in China alone will be submitted for clinical trials around late April, China's Vice Science and Technology Minister Xu Nanping said on Friday.

Xu made the remarks during a press briefing.

Zhou Qi, deputy secretary-general of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, also told reporters companies which have resumed operations should ensure proper ventilation and maintain a safe distance among workers.


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