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China reports no new coronavirus deaths for first time

BEIJING : China reported no coronavirus deaths for the first time since the pandemic began, and a drop in new cases, a day before the central city of Wuhan, where the virus emerged late in December, is set to lift its lockdown.

China had 32 new infections by Monday, down from 39 a day earlier, the National Health Commission said.

For the first time since the commission began publishing nationwide data in late January, Hubei's provincial capital of Wuhan saw no new deaths, joining the rest of China, which has recorded none since March 31.

Wuhan, a city of 11 million that reported only two new infections in the past fortnight, is due to allow residents to leave the city today for the first time since it was locked down on Jan 23 to curb the spread of the virus.

IMPORTED CASES

Overseas arrivals made up all 32 of the new cases with symptoms, down from 38 a day earlier.

With the country well past February's peak of infections, the authorities have turned their attention to imported cases and asymptomatic patients, who show no signs but can still pass on the virus.

Total infections in China stood at 81,740 on Monday with 3,331 deaths, the commission added.

It reported 30 new asymptomatic cases, nine involving incoming travellers. Of the new asymptomatic cases, 18 were in Hubei. By the end of Monday, 1,033 asymptomatic patients were under observation.

In South Korea, two elderly coronavirus patients recovered from severe pneumonia after being treated with plasma from survivors, researchers said yesterday, offering hope in the face of the global pandemic.

Scientists have pointed to the potential benefits of plasma - a blood fluid - from recovered individuals who have developed antibodies to the virus, enabling the body's defences to attack it.

Plasma therapy could become "an alternative treatment for patients in critical condition who do not respond to antiviral drugs" said Dr Choi Jun-yong, a doctor andresearcher at Severance Hospital in Seoul, where both patients were treated.

But large-scale clinical trials were needed, he added. - REUTERS, AFP

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