By Louis Casiano-Fox News
Chinese health officials said Thursday local time that the epicenter of the coronavirus and its surrounding province — Wuhan and Hubei, respectively — have not reported any new cases but recorded eight more deaths in the same area.
The health ministry said 34 new cases in the country over the past 24 hours were detected in people who live abroad. Of the new cases, 21 were in Beijing, nine in the southern manufacturing powerhouse of Guangdong, two in Shanghai, and one each in coastal Zhejiang and Heilongjing in the far northeast.
The eight deaths were in Wuhan, where the virus was first reported in December 2019. Overall, the country has recorded nearly 81,000 coronavirus cases and 3,245 deaths. Another 70,240 people have been released from hospitals and just over 7,200 are still being treated.
Chinese leaders have begun loosening tough travel restrictions that have kept many inside. Mandatory 14-day quarantines, however, have been stepped up on those arriving from overseas.
The virus has also taken a toll on China’s economy, as consumer spending and factory activity fell more than expected in January and February. Some forecasters warn China’s economic fallout could be its worst slip since the 1970s.
In addition, ties with the United States remain strained over bitter name-calling and harsh accusations. The rift came to a head this week when Beijing expelled several American journalists and President Trump began labeling the pandemic the “Chinese virus” or “Wuhan virus.”
Trump doubled down on the terminology Wednesday, further inflaming tensions between Washington and Beijing.
“It’s not racist at all. No, not at all. It comes from China,” Trump told reporters. “That’s why. It comes from China. I want to be accurate.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.