© Reuters. People with protective masks are walking in a park when the country is affected by an outbreak of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Beijing
BEIJING (Reuters) – China's Hubei Province, where the coronavirus pandemic was triggered, will lift travel restrictions for people who leave the region as the epidemic wears off there. However, other regions will tighten controls as new cases of imported infections double.
The Hubei Health Commission announced that it would lift the curbs for outgoing travelers on March 25, provided that they have a health code.
In the provincial capital Wuhan, where the virus first appeared and which has been completely blocked since January 23, the travel restrictions will be lifted on April 8.
However, the risk of overseas infections appears to be increasing, leading to stricter screening and quarantine measures in major cities such as Beijing.
China had 78 new cases on Monday, the National Health Commission said, doubling from Sunday. 74 of the new cases were imported infections, compared to 39 imported cases the day before.
The Chinese capital Beijing was hit hardest with 31 newly imported cases, followed by the southern province of Guangdong with 14 and the financial center of Shanghai with nine. The total number of imported cases was 427 on Monday.
Only four new cases were local broadcasts. One was in Wuhan who had not reported a new infection in five days.
Wuhan residents may soon leave with a health tracking code, a QR code, that is linked to a person's state of health.
In other parts of the country, authorities have continued to impose stricter checks and quarantines and divert international flights from Beijing to other Chinese cities. However, this has not stopped the influx of Chinese nationals, many of whom are students infected with viruses, from countries.
The Beijing city government tightened quarantine rules for overseas people and announced on Tuesday that anyone entering the city will be subject to centralized quarantine and health controls. (B9N2AR01N)
The southern city of Shenzhen said on Tuesday that it would test all arrivals and that Macau's Chinese territory would ban visitors from the mainland, Hong Kong and Taiwan.
The number of local infections from overseas arrivals, the first of which was reported in the southern Guangzhou Travel Center on Saturday, remains very low.
On Monday in Beijing, a person on site was infected for the first time by an international traveler who arrived in China. Shanghai reported a similar case and increased the total number of such infections to three.
Concerns about new waves of infections
The rise in imported cases and the lifting of restrictions in some cities so that people can get back to work and boost the stricken Chinese economy have raised concerns about a second wave of infections.
A private poll on Tuesday found that a 10-11% drop in gross domestic product in the first quarter was "not inappropriate" in the world's second largest economy.
The epidemic has affected all sectors of the economy – from manufacturing to tourism. In order to persuade companies to reopen, policy makers have committed loans, grants and subsidies.
In impoverished Gansu Province, government officials have to spend at least 200 yuan (US $ 28.25) a week each to help local restaurants recover.
The official China Daily warned in an editorial Tuesday that maintaining strict restrictions on people's movements would "now do more harm than good".