The coronavirus cases continue to drop sharply in China which has reported 11 new fatalities, taking the death toll to 3,169, while in the worst-hit Wuhan, the confirmed cases for the first time dropped to single digit with eight new infections, amid a surge in "imported COVID-19 cases" in the country.
China's National Health Commission said on Thursday it received reports of 15 new confirmed cases of novel coronavirus and 11 deaths on the Chinese mainland on Wednesday.
However, there is a surge in total number of "imported COVID-19 cases" (people arriving from abroad) which rose to 85 on Wednesday, the state-run Xinhua news agency reported on Thursday.
As of Wednesday, a total of 80,793 confirmed cases of the COVID-19 had been reported on the mainland, and 3,169 people had died of the disease.
Among the new deaths, 10 were in Hubei Province and its capital Wuhan and one in Shaanxi province, it said.
In Hubei province and Wuhan, where over 50 million people are still under lockdown, the coronavirus cases, for the first time, dropped to a single digit. Wuhan reported eight cases on Wednesday, it said.
The latest report by the local health commission brought the total confirmed COVID-19 cases in the hard-hit province to 67,781.
As of Wednesday, Hubei had seen no new confirmed COVID-19 cases for seven consecutive days in its 16 cities and prefectures outside Wuhan.
Among the 12,769 hospitalised patients, 3,453 were still in severe condition and another 727 in critical condition in Wuhan.
The Chinese mainland reported seven new confirmed cases of the COVID-19 on Wednesday outside Hubei Province, the NHC said.
Of them, six cases -- three in Guangdong, two in Gansu and one in Henan -- were imported from outside (foreigners and locals coming from abroad) into the Chinese mainland.
The total number of imported COVID-19 cases on the mainland rose to 85 as of Wednesday.
Capital Beijing on Wednesday reported no new confirmed cases, but five new suspected cases among foreigners, including two from Italy, one from Britain and Spain each, according to Beijing Municipal Health Commission.
As of Wednesday, a total of 435 confirmed cases had been reported in Beijing, including eight deaths.
The deadly coronavirus virus that first originated in the Chinese city of Wuhan in December last year has claimed over 4,500 lives and infected more than 124,000 people across 107 countries and territories.
The World Health Organization (WHO) on Wednesday characterised the COVID-19 outbreak as a "pandemic" as the virus spreads increasingly worldwide.
"We have therefore made the assessment that COVID-19 can be characterized as a pandemic," WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters in Geneva.
Tedros said the WHO was "deeply concerned both by the alarming levels of spread and severity, as well as by the alarming levels of inaction."
He urged the international community to take urgent and aggressive action to contain the pandemic, the report said.
"We have never before seen a pandemic sparked by a coronavirus. And we have never before seen a pandemic that can be controlled at the same time," Tedros said, stressing "all countries can still change the course of this pandemic."
While the coronavirus cases declined sharply in China, the cases of infection have been rising rapidly in Europe and other parts of the world, with Italy being the hardest-hit country.
The total number of confirmed cases in Italy had surged past 12,000 as of Wednesday, despite its drastic measure of locking down the entire country.
Michael Ryan, executive director of the WHO's health emergencies programme, has said the pandemic "is a characterisation or description of the situation." He denied that such a move would trigger anything other than more aggressive and intensive action.
The WHO has made many internal and external consultations in assessing the use of the word "pandemic" as a characterisation of COVID-19, he added, warning against the danger of using the word to make people give up rather than act.