China reports 71 more COVID-19 deaths

February 25, 2020
Man and Dog
A man wears a face mask as a preventive measure against the COVID-19 coronavirus as he sits with his dog on a bench on a sidewalk in Beijing on February 25, 2020. The new coronavirus has peaked in China but could still grow into a pandemic, the World Health Organization warned, as infections mushroom in other countries. / AFP / GREG BAKER

BEIJING — China on Tuesday reported another 71 deaths from the novel coronavirus, the lowest daily number of fatalities in over two weeks, which raised the toll to 2,663.

The National Health Commission also reported 508 new confirmed cases, with all but nine in hard-hit Hubei province.

It is up from Monday’s 409 cases nationwide.

Multiple provinces in China have reported zero new cases for several days in a row now, with the World Health Organization saying Monday that the coronavirus epidemic has “peaked” in China.

WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the peak in China occurred between January 23 and February 2 and the number of new cases there “has been declining steadily since then”.

However, WHO expert Bruce Aylward, leader of a joint WHO-China mission of experts, warned on Monday of outbreaks in other countries “increasing at exponential growth rates”.

Despite a downward trend in new case numbers, China continues to struggle to resume normal activity after the virus brought the world’s second-largest economy to a standstill.

The country also decided to postpone its annual parliament session for the first time since the Cultural Revolution.

Tens of millions of people remain under lockdown in Hubei province, where the virus is believed to have originated late last year.

A slight easing of the lockdown in Wuhan, Hubei’s capital, was retracted shortly after being announced on Monday.

Outbreaks in prisons and hospitals have also raised further concerns about ineffective containment measures.

The Communist Party’s political and legal affairs commission said Tuesday that 323 coronavirus cases were reported in Hubei prisons by Sunday, including 279 in the Wuhan Women’s Prison.