It is a symbolic course: the epicenter country of the epidemic announces this Thursday zero new contamination of local origin by the coronavirus. But the authorities now fear imported cases and have launched an all-out campaign for international aid.

It is a symbolic course: the epicenter country of the epidemic announces this Thursday zero new contamination of local origin by the coronavirus. But the authorities now fear imported cases and have launched an all-out campaign for international aid.

(.) – Because the Covid-19 is still raging abroad, especially in Western Europe, where countries like Italy, France or Spain have decreed containment measures to stem the spread of the disease. Sign of a trend reversal: more people have now died outside of China than in the Asian country – where the new coronavirus appeared in Wuhan in December. And this Thursday, for the first time since the start of the epidemic, the Chinese Ministry of Health announced zero new contamination of local origin.

Furthermore, only eight new deaths have been recorded in the past 24 hours, bringing the national death toll to 3,245. But China is now facing a new danger: imported cases, of which an additional 34 were reported on Thursday. This number of infected people from abroad is even a daily record. They are most often Chinese returning from countries particularly affected by Covid-19.

Masks in France

In total, their number now stands at 189 in the country, which remains the most affected in the world by the coronavirus, with 80,928 people infected – 87% of whom are cured. “We should never allow the positive trend, achieved with great effort, to be reversed,” President Xi Jinping warned Wednesday at a meeting of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). To prevent people from abroad from relaunching an epidemic contained on its soil, China now imposes a quarantine on everyone arriving in the country. In Beijing, most of them are placed in hotels. However, those living alone, those over 70, minors and pregnant women can stay at home.

But China, which had been slow to react when the virus appeared at the end of last year, also wishes to act upstream, by helping the countries most affected to avoid a spike in contamination. It thus sent Wednesday to France a million masks, according to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Jean-Yves Le Drian. The first plane, which landed in Paris, also brought protective suits and medical gloves, said Chinese Ambassador Lu Shaye.

Alibaba too

A shipment of 1.8 million masks destined for Spain and Italy had already arrived in Europe last week. The president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, for her part announced on Wednesday the next shipment by China of a large quantity of medical supplies. The delivery of equipment, expected “soon”, will include 2 million surgical masks, 200,000 N-95 type masks (which protect the wearer from contamination), and 50,000 screening tests. Italy, the most affected European country, has benefited for several weeks already from Chinese equipment and experts. And the influx will continue, Xi Jinping promised Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte in a telephone conversation on Monday.

Experts from China have also visited many countries outside the European Union, such as Iran and Iraq. Others are expected to arrive in Serbia this week. Chinese health authorities also share their technical advice via videoconferences. Beyond the state, the private group Alibaba, a Chinese giant in online commerce, has sent masks via its foundation to France, Spain and Italy. Beijing seeks to defend its image tarnished when the virus appeared and said it was “outraged” Tuesday to see US President Donald Trump speak of “Chinese virus” instead of the term “Covid-19” coined by the WHO .

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