Wuhan official preaches vigilance as China plans to mourn coronavirus 'martyrs'

WUHAN, China (Reuters) – The top official in Wuhan, the epicentre of the coronavirus epidemic in China, warned residents to strengthen self-protection measures and avoid going out as Beijing preaches vigilance to avoid a resurgence of infections.

China, which appears to have curbed the epidemic through draconian travel and transport restrictions that paralysed the country and its economy for two months, will hold a national mourning on Saturday for “martyrs” who died in the fight against the epidemic, the official Xinhua news agency reported separately on Friday.

Three minutes of silence will be observed at 10 a.m. (0200 GMT) on April 4 across the country “while air raid sirens and horns of automobiles, trains and ships will wail in grief,” Xinhua said.

The mainland has seen its daily case figures drop sharply from the height of the crisis in February, allowing Beijing to push the country’s industries to go back to work. Top officials remain concerned about the risk of a so-called second wave, however, as dozens of new COVID-19 cases involving travellers from overseas continue to be reported each day.

China has reported a total of 81,589 confirmed cases, which exclude asymptomatic patients, and 3,318 deaths from the outbreak. Worldwide, the number of cases has topped 1 million, with at least 52,000 deaths. [nL1N2BQ2S9]

Wang Zhonglin, Wuhan’s Communist Party chief, said the risk of a rebound in the city’s coronavirus epidemic remained high due to both internal and external risks and that it must continue to maintain prevention and control measures.

The city is scheduled to ease travel curbs on April 8 as the number of infections reported there have dwindled, but Wang said individual residential compounds should remain vigilant with coronavirus prevention measures, according to a statement published by the Wuhan city government on Friday.

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