SHANGHAI: China on Thursday (Apr 2) reported six new coronavirus deaths as of the end of Wednesday, the same number as on Tuesday. 

China also had 35 new coronavirus cases on Wednesday, all of which were imported, the National Health Commission said on Thursday.

Chinese authorities remain concerned about the risks posed by imported cases of COVID-19, and have in recent days banned foreign passport holders from entering and ordered a sharp reduction in the number of international flights.

China currently allows no more than 134 international flights per week to enter the country to meet demand from citizens and students abroad wishing to return home, and just 108 flights have been granted permission this week, Lu Erxue, the deputy director-general of China’s civil aviation administration said at a briefing on Thursday.

A total of 1.6 million Chinese students study overseas, including 410,000 in the United States, 230,000 in Canada and about 220,000 in the United Kingdom, Ma Zhaoxu, China’s vice-minister of foreign affairs, said at the same briefing.

Of those, 1.42 million are still abroad. Chinese consulates have reported a total of 36 overseas Chinese students with confirmed cases of COVID-19, he said.

“For countries where the epidemic is severe, where there are students who truly are in difficulty and urgently need to return, the Party and government will take the necessary measures to assist them in a step-by-step, orderly fashion,” Ma said.

Separately, China’s foreign ministry said on Thursday that US officials are making “shameless” comments casting doubt about China’s reporting of coronavirus cases in the country.

READ: Trump casts doubt on China’s coronavirus figures

READ: As the world battles COVID-19, governments are under fire

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying reiterated during a daily briefing that China has been open and transparent about the coronavirus outbreak that began in the country late last year.

She added that the US should stop politicising a health issue and instead focus on the safety of its people.

NO SYMPTOMS

The number of new asymptomatic cases fell sharply to 55 on Apr 1, from 130 the day before.

Users of Chinese social media have expressed fear that carriers with no symptoms could be spreading the virus unknowingly, especially as authorities ease curbs on travel for previous hotspots now that infections have subsided.

Last week, WHO epidemiologist Maria van Kerkhove said symptomatic patients were the main drivers of transmission, while most of those classified as asymptomatic developed symptoms a few days after diagnosis.

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