Beijing: China has partially eased restrictions in coronavirus-hit Wuhan, permitting people who are infected with the virus or stranded to leave for the first time after a month as the death toll climbed to 2,592 while the number of confirmed cases increased to more than 77,000, officials said Monday.
People who are not quarantined and seeking special treatment or stranded in Wuhan can leave in batches, according to the local authority in Wuhan, the city of 11 million, which is the epicentre of the virus.
China locked down the city on January 23, followed by the entire Hubei province with over 50 million people. Wuhan is the provincial capital of Hubei. Over 18 cities from the province have been sealed in the lockdown.
No residents were allowed to leave the city since then, including several hundred foreigners, mainly students.
India has evacuated 647 Indians and seven Maldivians by operating two special flights. India is awaiting permission to airlift over 100 more.
A number of countries have evacuated their nationals. Pakistan, which has over 1,000 nationals stuck there, is yet to respond positively to their pleas to evacuate them.
Meanwhile, the death toll climbed to 2,592 with 150 new fatalities while the total number of confirmed cases increased to over 77,000, health officials said on Monday.
The country's National Health Commission (NHC) said it received reports of 409 new confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus infection and 150 deaths from 31 provincial-level regions on Sunday.
The overall confirmed cases on the Chinese mainland has reached 77,150 with a total of 2,592 fatalities by the end of Sunday, the NHC said.
Hubei province and its provincial capital Wuhan, the ground zero of the virus, continued to bear the brunt with 149 death while one person died in Hainan Province, it said.
The NHC also highlighted that recovered coronavirus patients have outnumbered new infections for the sixth consecutive day, indicating stabilisation of the virus situation in China.
Sunday saw 1,846 people walk out of hospital after recovery, much higher than the number of the same day's new confirmed infections which was 409, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.
A total of 24,734 patients infected with the coronavirus have been discharged from hospital after recovery by the end of Sunday, the NHC said.
Meanwhile, the China-World Health Organisation (WHO) joint expert team visited Hubei Province, epicentre of the 'COVID-19' outbreak over the weekend to conduct field investigations, the NHC said.
The experts visited Tongji Hospital, the Wuhan Sports Centre that was converted into a temporary hospital, and the provincial centre for disease control and prevention to learn about the epidemic prevention and control as well as medical treatment, it said.
They also talked to officials and experts in the province and briefed NHC director Ma Xiaowei on their findings and suggestions, it said.
President Xi Jinping presided over a high-level meeting of officials on Sunday to review the progress of his government's efforts to contain the virus.
He warned that China's coronavirus epidemic was still "grim and complex" and called for more efforts to tackle the country's "largest public health emergency".
President Xi, who attended a meeting here to double efforts in coordinating the prevention and control of the COVID-19 outbreak, said the epidemic "has the fastest transmission, widest range of infection and has been the most difficult to prevent and control".
"This is a crisis for us and it is a big test," he said.
The meeting, in the form of tele-conference, was presided over by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang.
Xi acknowledged that the epidemic will "inevitably have a large impact on the economy and society" but the effects will be "short-term" and controllable.
"The epidemic situation remains grim and complex, and it is now a most crucial moment to curb the spread," Xi added.