Medical workers pose for photos after seeing cured patients off at the Wuchang temporary hospital in Wuhan, central China's Hubei Province, March 10, 2020. (Xinhua/Xiao Yijiu)
BEIJING, March 12 (Xinhua) -- China on Thursday said the peak of the current outbreak of novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the country is over, hours after the World Health Organization declared the epidemic outbreak as a pandemic.
New cases keep declining and the overall epidemic situation remains at a low level in China, Mi Feng, a spokesperson for the National Health Commission said at a press conference in Beijing.
Mi said the number of new confirmed cases in Wuhan, the epicenter in central China's Hubei Province, has dropped to a single digit, with only eight cases reported on Wednesday. No new cases had been reported in other cities of Hubei for a week in a row, Mi said.
Only seven new cases were reported on the Chinese mainland outside Hubei, but six were imported from overseas, he added.
Mi said the top priority should be given to treating patients and vowed no relaxation or loose efforts in the epidemic prevention and control work.
This developed as the WHO announced that the COVID-19 outbreak can be characterized as a "pandemic" as the virus spreads increasingly worldwide.
There are now more than 118,000 confirmed cases in 114 countries and regions, and 4,291 people have lost their lives, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at a press conference in Geneva, noting that the number of coronavirus cases, deaths and affected countries is expected to climb even higher in the days and weeks ahead.
The WHO's characterization of the COVID-19 outbreak as a "pandemic" was to call on its members once again to make further political commitment and put in more resources to turn things around in the battle against the disease, Mi said.
Since the outbreak of COVID-19, China has taken the most comprehensive, strictest and most thorough prevention and control measures, gaining precious time for itself and other countries and regions in setting up their own epidemic prevention and control, he added.
"China is paying close attention to the current rapid global spread of the epidemic, and can empathize with other countries in terms of the pressure in prevention and control," Mi said.