China has announced a drop in new cases from the coronavirus outbreak for a third consecutive day.
On Sunday, authorities reported 2,009 new cases and 142 more deaths nationwide.
New cases spiked earlier in the week after a change in the way they were counted but have been falling ever since.
In total more than 68,000 people have been infected in China, with the death toll standing at 1,665.
Outside China there have been more than 500 cases in nearly 30 countries.
Taiwan reported its first death from the illness on Sunday. The victim was a man in his 60s, who had not travelled abroad recently but who had diabetes and hepatitis B, Health Minister Chen Shih-chung said.
Four others have died outside China – in France, Hong Kong, the Philippines and Japan.
The measures China has taken to stop the spread of the coronavirus are starting to have an impact, Mi Feng, a spokesman at the National Health Commission, said on Sunday.
In other developments:
- The number of people who have tested positive on the Diamond Princess cruise ship, which is being held in quarantine in Japan, has risen to 355
- A Chinese tourist has died in France – the first fatality outside Asia
- An 83-year-old American woman has tested positive after disembarking another cruise ship that was turned away by a number of countries before being allowed to dock in Cambodia
- In the UK, all but one of nine people being treated have been discharged from hospital
On Saturday, World Health Organization (WHO) head Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus praised Beijing’s response to the outbreak.
“China has bought the world time. We don’t know how much time,” he said. “We’re encouraged that outside China, we have not yet seen widespread community transmission.”
How is China coping?
China has imposed more restrictions on the 60 million people living under lockdown in Hubei province – the centre of the outbreak – in an attempt to control the epidemic.
The use of private cars has been banned and residents have been told to stay at home unless there’s an emergency.
Officials say there will be only one exception to this rule – every three days a single person from each household will be allowed out to buy food and other essential items.
The new measures come despite an announcement by China’s State Council that the proportion of infected patients in a serious condition had fallen nationwide.
Foreign Minister Wang Yi also said that along with a drop in infections within Hubei there had been a rapid increase in the number of people who had recovered.
Meanwhile, authorities in the capital, Beijing, have ordered everyone returning to the city to go into quarantine for 14 days or risk punishment.
China’s central bank will also disinfect and store used banknotes before recirculating them in a bid to stop the virus spreading.
In another development Chinese state media published a speech from earlier this month in which Chinese President Xi Jinping said he said he had given instructions on 7 January on containing the outbreak.
At the time, local officials in the city of Wuhan were downplaying the severity of the epidemic.
This would suggest senior leaders were aware of the potential dangers of the virus before the information was made public.
With the government facing criticism for its handling of the outbreak, analysts suggest the disclosure is an attempt to show the party leadership acted decisively from the start.
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