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China says coronavirus cases on decline after hitting peak in epicenter

  

The coronavirus outbreak in China has passed its peak, the country's top health commission said Thursday.

Officials said there were eight new infections in Hubei province, marking the first time the daily total has fallen below 10 in the region where the virus was first detected, Reuters reported.

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

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Authorities are gradually reducing containment measures, and some businesses are reopening. Officials announced a further loosening of travel restrictions in the Hubei province, where the coronavirus first emerged late last year, and will also allow some industries to resume production in the region.

Manufacturing and trade in Hubei province has been virtually frozen since Jan. 23, as the provincial capital Wuhan and neighboring cities were locked down for safety measures.

As the coronavirus spreads around the globe, its growth rate has slowed in China.

Wuhan, a city of 11 million people, reported all the new cases in Hubei on Wednesday, according to the National Health Commission. Mainland China reported seven new cases, while six cases were carried from outside provinces.

Fifteen new cases were recorded in total for mainland China on Wednesday, down from 24 the day before.

The total number of cases in mainland China was 80,793 on Wednesday. As of Tuesday, 62,793 people had recovered from their infections or were released from hospitals, accounting for 80 percent of recovered cases.

The overall death toll from the coronavirus in mainland China reached 3,169 on Wednesday.