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China reports no new deaths; Japan declares emergency for 7 areas

People continue wearing protective face masks on empty streets despite reports of a decline in the threat of the COVID-19 virus in Beijing on Monday. Photo by Stephen Shaver/UPI
People continue wearing protective face masks on empty streets despite reports of a decline in the threat of the COVID-19 virus in Beijing on Monday. Photo by Stephen Shaver/UPI | License Photo

April 7 (UPI) -- China on Tuesday reported no deaths associated with COVID-19 -- a first since the government in Beijing started publishing updates on the coronavirus outbreak in late January.

Beijing's National Health Commission announced the milestone in its daily briefing, which it began nearly two months after the deadly and infectious coronavirus is believed to have emerged from the central Chinese city of Wuhan.

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Tuesday's update reported zero deaths and 32 new cases of the virus over Monday, all of which were imported, increasing its total infections to more than 81,700 as its death toll stands at 3,331, according to the commission.

It also recorded 30 asymptomatic cases -- those who test positive for the virus without symptoms -- a figure officials only began including in the daily updates on April 1. There are so far 1,000 asymptomatic cases.

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As of midnight Wednesday, officials officially lifted the lockdown on Wuhan, 76 days after it began. The order means 11 million residents of the city in Hubei province can now travel beyond its borders.

"It's like being liberated," Zhang Kaizhong told The Guardian.

Zhang, who is from Jiangsu province, traveled to Wuhan one day before the lockdown to visit his son. He got stuck there after the lockdown went into effect and hasn't seen his wife in more than two months.

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"I miss her very much," he said. "Of course I am very excited."

Also Tuesday, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe declared a state of emergency, a move he had initially resisted.

The state of emergency is specific to the capital Tokyo and six other prefectures and covers about 44 percent of Japan's population of more than 126 million people.

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A health worker with the Israeli national emergency service, Magen David Adam, wears protective gear while taking swabs to test for COVID-19 at a drive-through testing center in East Jerusalem on August 26. Photo by Debbie Hill/UPI | License Photo

"We have decided to declare a state of emergency because we've judged that a fast spread of the coronavirus nationwide would have an enormous impact on lives and the economy," Abe explained to parliament.

Japan has reported nearly 4,000 cases as of Monday and 80 deaths, though Tokyo has seen its number of cases nearly double to 1,200 infections in the past week.

Abe said the emergency will not constitute a full-blown lockdown, but it gives governors the power to order citizens to stay home and businesses to close though no penalties will be issued to those who disobey the measures. Abe announced the emergency measures for all seven prefectures on Monday.

Since the outbreak began in December, it has infected more than 1.3 million people in more than 180 countries and territories, according Johns Hopkins University. The pandemic has caused nearly 75,000 deaths.

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