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China says virus controls are working but experts say too soon to tell

SHANGHAI: While the coronavirus death toll in China passed 1,770 and there were at least 70,540 infections, the Chinese authorities said the stabilisation in the number of new cases is a sign that the measures they have taken to halt the spread of the disease are having an effect.

There were 2,048 new Covid-19 cases, slightly more new cases than reported on Sunday, but hundreds fewer than reported on Saturday.

The number of new cases in other parts of the country has dropped for 12 straight days.

Control of the epidemic in China is showing an active and improving trend, state television quoted a meeting chaired by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang as saying yesterday.

With the measures the government has taken, the possible wider spread of the outbreak has been averted, it said.

However, epidemiologists say it is probably still too early to say how well the outbreak is being contained within China and its central Hubei province, where the virus first appeared.

World Health Organisation chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warned it was "impossible to predict which direction this epidemic will take".

"China has bought the world time. We don't know how much time."

The UN health body has asked China for more details on how diagnoses are being made.

An international team of WHO experts will arrive in Beijing this weekend for a joint mission with Chinese counterparts.

In a separate development, China may postpone its annual Parliament session, state media said yesterday.

China's ruling council will "deliberate a draft decision" over postponing the 10-day National People's Congress, said official news agency Xinhua, ahead of the meeting due to start on March 5.

The meeting has been held annually in March for the past 35 years.

TEST KIT

There was some good news. China's Nankai University said it had developed a coronavirus rapid test kit that can identify infection among suspected patients within 15 minutes.

The new virus test kit was developed with experts from other Chinese universities and biopharmaceutical companies.

The test kit can shorten the testing time, provide easier and faster operation, and make rapid diagnosis of suspected patients and on-site screening of people in close contact, the university said in a statement. - REUTERS, AFP

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