China declares whole country ‘at low risk’ after coronavirus pandemic

A woman dressed in traditional costume holds an umbrella walks next to another woman both wearing a protective face masks to help curb the s Credit: Andy Wong/AP

China’s government has declared the whole country is low risk as the number of coronavirus cases fall to nearly zero.

The country’s National Health Administration reported just two new coronavirus cases, both of them brought from overseas, and said 295 people remained in hospital with Covid-19.

In addition, there have been no deaths reported from the virus for more than three weeks.

The last place downgraded from high to low risk was Linkou county outside the city of Mudanjiang in the province of Heilongjiang that borders on Russia and where the most recent spike in cases had been reported.

Authorities shut an emergency field hospital in the region after the closing of the land border and strict social distancing measures appeared to have decreased new cases to zero.

In total, China has reported 4,633 deaths among 82,885 cases of the virus that is believed to have originated in the central industrial city of Wuhan late last year before spreading worldwide.

Elsewhere, New Zealand could reopen bars, retail stores and hair salons from next week and once again allow domestic travel.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern outlined the further relaxation of lockdown rules, and senior politicians will decide on Monday whether to go ahead with the plan from Wednesday.

Under the plan, schools could reopen from the following week, but gatherings would be restricted to 100 people and social distancing protocols would be required.

The country’s borders would remain shut under the proposed plan, but professional sports would start again, although without the crowds.

New Zealand has been successful in reducing new cases of the virus to a trickle, including two days this week when no new cases were recorded.

In total, the country has reported close to 1,500 cases and 21 deaths.