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China's imported coronavirus cases jump as students, expats flock home

Reuters logo Reuters 21/03/2020 By Engen Tham and Yilei Sun
a man standing in front of a building: Police officer in a protective suit keeps watch on inbound travellers at Shanghai Pudong International Airport following a global outbreak of coronavirus disease © Reuters/STRINGER Police officer in a protective suit keeps watch on inbound travellers at Shanghai Pudong International Airport following a global outbreak of coronavirus disease

By Engen Tham and Yilei Sun

a group of people standing in front of a crowd: Migrant workers arrive via a charter train from Jingzhou, Hubei province at Guangzhou South Railway Station in Guangzhou © Reuters/CHINA DAILY Migrant workers arrive via a charter train from Jingzhou, Hubei province at Guangzhou South Railway Station in Guangzhou

SHANGHAI/BEIJING (Reuters) - China reported a record rise in imported coronavirus cases on Friday as expatriates returned home from the United States and Europe, sparking fears of a second wave of infections just as the country recovers from the initial outbreak.

People wearing protective face masks are seen at the Happy Valley amusement park on its first day of opening following the outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Shanghai © Reuters/ALY SONG People wearing protective face masks are seen at the Happy Valley amusement park on its first day of opening following the outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Shanghai

All 41 of the new confirmed cases in China were imported from abroad, the country's National Health Commission said on Saturday, bringing the total number of such cases to 269.

a person sitting on a bench: People wearing protective face masks are seen at the Happy Valley amusement park on its first day of opening following the outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Shanghai © Reuters/ALY SONG People wearing protective face masks are seen at the Happy Valley amusement park on its first day of opening following the outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Shanghai

Beijing and Shanghai were the main entry points for the returnees, many of whom are students who were studying abroad, according to official reports. They have come back after many campuses in the United States and Europe shut down to stem rapidly rising infection rates there.

a group of people in a room: People wearing protective face masks are seen at the Happy Valley amusement park on its first day of opening following the outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Shanghai © Reuters/ALY SONG People wearing protective face masks are seen at the Happy Valley amusement park on its first day of opening following the outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Shanghai

Also returning in a flight to safety were China-based expats, as businesses begin to reopen.

a person walking down a city street talking on a cell phone: People wear protective face masks, following an outbreak of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19), at Lujiazui financial district in Shanghai © Reuters/ALY SONG People wear protective face masks, following an outbreak of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19), at Lujiazui financial district in Shanghai

The pivot to stemming imported cases has led to a tightening of quarantine restrictions in the country.

a group of people standing next to a person in a suit and tie: People wear protective face masks, following an outbreak of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19), at Lujiazui financial district in Shanghai © Reuters/ALY SONG People wear protective face masks, following an outbreak of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19), at Lujiazui financial district in Shanghai

Guangdong's health commission said on Saturday travellers who enter Guangdong province from abroad will be subject to a 14-day quarantine on arrival either in personal residences or at a centralised quarantine centre at the expense of the traveller.

A boy wears a protective face mask at a shopping mall, following an outbreak of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Shanghai © Reuters/ALY SONG A boy wears a protective face mask at a shopping mall, following an outbreak of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Shanghai

The total number of confirmed cases in mainland China stood at 81,008 at the end of Friday, the health authority said. The death toll was 3,255, up by seven, a much slower rate than at the height of the crisis.

a lit up city at night: People wear protective face masks, following an outbreak of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19), at Lujiazui financial district in Shanghai © Reuters/ALY SONG People wear protective face masks, following an outbreak of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19), at Lujiazui financial district in Shanghai

The lack of locally transmitted cases for the third day running underscored a recovery that has prompted officials to relax restrictions, even in the virus epicentre of Wuhan, which was responsible for all seven new deaths.

a man standing in front of a building: A woman wears a protective face mask, following an outbreak of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19), at Lujiazui financial district in Shanghai © Reuters/ALY SONG A woman wears a protective face mask, following an outbreak of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19), at Lujiazui financial district in Shanghai

City officials said last week that residents could walk around their compounds, loosening restrictions that had kept them to their personal living areas.

a man standing next to a traffic light: A man wears a protective face mask, following an outbreak of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19), at Lujiazui financial district in Shanghai © Reuters/ALY SONG A man wears a protective face mask, following an outbreak of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19), at Lujiazui financial district in Shanghai

On Saturday, the official Xinhua news agency said commercial outlets in residential communities and villages without existing cases of virus can resume business, citing the municipal bureau of commerce.

A boy and a girl drive in a toy car, following an outbreak of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Shanghai © Reuters/ALY SONG A boy and a girl drive in a toy car, following an outbreak of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Shanghai

As well as Beijing and Shanghai, the major transport hub of Shenzhen, near Hong Kong, has facilitated infected returnees. The southern provinces of Guangdong, Fujian, and the eastern provinces of Shandong and Zhejiang, as well as Shaanxi and Sichuan have also all reported cases.

a person in a green room: Worker in protective suit disinfects the Wuhan No. 7 Hospital, once a designated hospital for COVID-19 patients, to prepare it for the resumption of its normal service in Wuhan © Reuters/STRINGER Worker in protective suit disinfects the Wuhan No. 7 Hospital, once a designated hospital for COVID-19 patients, to prepare it for the resumption of its normal service in Wuhan

(Reporting by Engen Tham in Shanghai and Yilei Sun in Beijing; Editing by Daniel Wallis, Leslie Adler and Jane Wardell)

People wearing protective masks are seen at a railway station in Mumbai

People wearing protective masks are seen at a railway station in Mumbai
© Reuters/FRANCIS MASCARENHAS

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