Beijing, March 19 (CNN) – Mainland China on Thursday reported no new locally transmitted coronavirus cases for the first time since the the pandemic began, marking a major turning point in the global battle to contain Covid-19.
The country reported 34 new cases of coronavirus yesterday — all imported from overseas.
The milestone represents a turnaround for the Chinese government. Just last month, mainland China was reporting thousands of cases per day, and was considered the most high-risk infection area in the world.
Now, after months of lockdowns and travel restrictions affecting hundreds of millions of citizens, strict home quarantines, and an unprecedented nationwide effort, the country is down to zero reported new locally transmitted cases.
Instead, the threat is now coming from overseas. The number of cases and deaths outside China have exploded in the past two weeks, with the pandemic hitting the US and Europe particularly hard.
If China is any model to go by, these countries could have months to go before reaching zero new local transmissions.
Places like mainland China and Hong Kong are now bracing for a potential second wave of infections, as people return from overseas, bringing the virus with them.
China also reported eight new deaths yesterday, according to the National Health Commission. The country now has a total of 80,928 cases and 3,245 deaths.