Local officials in China have been urged not to “conceal” new coronavirus cases after a drop in new Covid-19 infections led to the easing of a two-month lockdown in Hubei province.
The epicentre of the outbreak will allow healthy people to leave, the provincial government said on Tuesday, though the city of Wuhan, where the virus originated, will remain closed until 8 April.
China’s premiere, Li Keqiang, said each local government must “must seek truth from facts and publicly and transparently release epidemic information.”
Speaking at a meeting of the leading group combating the virus on Monday, Mr Li said officials should accurately report new cases, which he said “must not be concealed in order to pursue zero reports”.
He said experts believed the virus would not “disappear suddenly” like Sars.
Mr Li said while the spread of the virus had been effectively stopped in Hubei, the risk of local outbreaks and sporadic cases remained.
“The prevention and control measures of ‘early detection, early reporting, early isolation, and early treatment’ must be put in place and resolutely curb the outbreak in local and even larger areas,” he said.
No new locally transmitted infections were reported on Wednesday, as China ramped up quarantine and screening rules for all international arrivals due to the risks from imported cases.
Hubei has seen almost no new infections for more than a week after drastic measures to limit the spread of the virus were implemented in January, preventing people from entering or leaving cities, cancelling trains and flights and setting up checkpoints on roads into the central province.
Local authorities downgraded Wuhan’s epidemic risk level from “high” to “medium” on Wednesday.
Mainland China has had 81,218 confirmed cases, with 474 imported infections. The death toll stood at 3,281 on Tuesday, up four from the previous day.