China says coronavirus cases falling, it is past peak of disease: report

Chinese authorities are allowing citizens to reopen their business and are easing containment measures as the country's health commission says the nation has made it past the worst of the coronavirus threat within its borders, according to reports.

According to Reuters, new coronavirus cases in Hubei province, which contains Wuhan, the epicenter of the disease that Wednesday was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization, totaled just eight on Thursday -- the lowest number recorded so far.

"Broadly speaking, the peak of the epidemic has passed for China," National Health Commission Spokesman Mi Feng said, according to Reuters. "The increase of new cases is falling."

In this photo released by China's Xinhua News Agency, Chinese President Xi Jinping talks by video with patients and medical workers at the Huoshenshan Hospital in Wuhan in central China's Hubei Province, Tuesday, March 10, 2020.  (Xie Huanchi/Xinhua via AP)

In this photo released by China's Xinhua News Agency, Chinese President Xi Jinping talks by video with patients and medical workers at the Huoshenshan Hospital in Wuhan in central China's Hubei Province, Tuesday, March 10, 2020.  (Xie Huanchi/Xinhua via AP)

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China, which has been criticized for exacerbating the spread of the disease by downplaying the problem in its initial phases and failing to share information with other countries, imposed strict containment measures, including a near-total lockdown of Wuhan as it sought to stem the spread of the disease.

The Chinese National Health Commission has also emphasized that new cases outside of Hubei province have essentially ceased, with no new cases recorded outside of Wuhan on Wednesday, according to Reuters.

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The People's Daily, the newspaper of the Chinese Communist Party, however, warned citizens in a recent editorial that there was still a risk for new outbreaks despite the falling number of new coronavirus cases.

According to Reuters the total number of coronavirus cases recorded in China is just under 81,000, and almost 63,000 of those have recovered.