Asian country had zero occurrences of new infections for the first time since the outbreak began in Wuhan at the end of last year. The Chinese government defends its response to the crisis, which included strict containment measures. China announced on Saturday (23/05) that, for the first time since the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak, it has not registered any new cases of covid-19 in its territory. There were also no new deaths linked to the disease, reported the country’s National Health Commission.

Chinese government’s transparency in the face of the crisis has been criticized by international actors

Photo: DW / Deutsche Welle

However, officials said they are investigating two new suspected cases, one imported (when the virus was contracted in another country) in Shanghai and another suspected local transmission in Jilin province, in the north-east of the country.

According to the commission, there are altogether 79 active cases of infection, nine of them serious. Another 376 people are isolated and being monitored, either because they are suspected of infection or because they tested positive without showing symptoms.

The Sars-Cov-2 coronavirus was first registered in the Chinese city of Wuhan in December last year, and ended up spreading to other countries and continents in the following months, infecting more than 5 million people and killing more than 300,000.

According to official figures, the number of infections in China peaked in mid-February, but in March it began to suffer sharp declines amid the government’s restraining measures. The country even zeroed in on local broadcasts, but continued to register imported cases.

The Asian nation of 1.4 billion people today has more than 82,000 infections and 4,634 deaths, a number well below those recorded in much smaller countries.

However, the reliability of China’s official figures has been questioned, mainly by the United States. Beijing denies the cover-up charges and insists it has been transparent in sharing information with the World Health Organization (WHO).

The zero-case mark comes a day after Prime Minister Li Keqiang said that the country has achieved “major strategic achievements in our response to covid-19”. He warned, however, that the nation still faces “immense” challenges. Officials continue to monitor Wuhan, the former epicenter of the disease, and intend to test all its 11 million inhabitants.

On Saturday, the director of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Gao Fu, also defended the Chinese government’s response to the crisis, but said the criticisms were understandable.

“With such an epidemic in China and worldwide, it is very normal to receive criticism from the public,” the virologist told reporters. “We accept [as críticas] with humility. “Countries like the USA and Australia criticized Beijing for the lack of transparency about the virus early in the outbreak.

Gao said the Chinese government’s response to the epidemic was “good” compared to other nations, especially since it was the first country to have to deal with the crisis and not have to mirror it. He compared the epidemic in the country to taking a test without being able to consult books.

The drop in infections follows an Asian trend. This Saturday, South Korea, for example, registered only 23 new cases of coronavirus in its territory, most of them in Seoul.

EK / ap / rtr / dpa

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Deutsche Welle is Germany’s international broadcaster and produces independent journalism in 30 languages.