Date: Feb 16, 2020 24-minutes ago
By: YANAN WANG
Travelers wear face masks and goggles as they use their smartphones outside the Beijing Railway Station in Beijing, Saturday, Feb. 15, 2020. 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. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)
BEIJING (AP) — China reported Sunday a drop in new virus cases for the third straight day, as it became apparent that the country’s leadership was aware of the potential gravity of the situation well before the alarm was sounded.
There are 2,009 new cases in mainland China, bringing its total number of confirmed cases to 68,500, according to the country’s National Health Commission.
The fatality rate remained stable with 142 new deaths, the commission said. The death toll in mainland China from COVID-19, a disease stemming from a new form of coronavirus, now stands at 1,665. In all, 9,419 people have recovered and been discharged from hospital.
The outbreak began in December in Wuhan, capital of the central Chinese province of Hubei, which has the bulk of infections.
It has since spread to more than 24 countries and prompted sweeping prevention measures from the Chinese government, including a lockdown of cities with a combined population of more than 60 million.
After Chinese President Xi Jinping played a muted public role in the early days of the epidemic, state media published Saturday evening a speech Xi delivered Feb. 3 in which he said he gave instructions on fighting the virus as early as Jan. 7. [FULL STORY]