China's coronavirus-hit Wuhan city on Monday revoked its decision to partially lift a month-long lockdown barely three hours after the announcement, a media report said, as the death toll climbed to 2,592, while the number of confirmed cases increased to more than 77,000.
The Wuhan local administration earlier announced that people who are not quarantined and seeking special treatment or stranded in the city can leave in batches.
The city of 11 million people was the epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak.
China locked down Wuhan city on January 23, followed by the entire Hubei province with over 50 million people. Wuhan is the provincial capital of Hubei.
Over 18 cities in the province have been sealed.
No residents were allowed to leave the city since then, including several hundred foreigners, mainly students.
India has evacuated 647 Indians and seven Maldivians by operating two special flights. India is awaiting permission to airlift over 100 more.
Barely three hours after the notice was issued, the government announced that the decision had been retracted saying it was issued by a subordinate working group of the city's disease control command without their superiors' approval, Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post reported.
The disease control command said it would reprimand the officials who issued the order without approval.
The evacuation has evoked hope for many as no residents were allowed to leave the city since then, including several hundred foreigners, mainly students.
Meanwhile, the death toll climbed to 2,592 with 150 new fatalities while the total number of confirmed cases increased to over 77,000, health officials said on Monday.
China's National Health Commission (NHC) said it received reports of 409 new confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus infection and 150 deaths from 31 provincial-level regions on Sunday.
The overall confirmed cases in the mainland China has reached 77,150 with a total of 2,592 fatalities by the end of Sunday, the NHC said.
Hubei province and its capital Wuhan, the ground zero of the virus, continued to bear the brunt with 149 death while one person died in Hainan province, it said.
The NHC also highlighted that recovered coronavirus patients have outnumbered new infections for the sixth consecutive day, indicating stabilisation of the virus situation in China.
Sunday saw 1,846 people walk out of hospital after recovery, much higher than the number of the same day's new confirmed infections which was 409, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.
A total of 24,734 patients infected with the coronavirus have been discharged from hospital after recovery by the end of Sunday, the NHC said.
In an unprecedented move, China on Monday postponed the annual session of Parliament from March 5 due to the virus outbreak.
The country's top legislature, the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC), met here and approved a draft decision on postponing the NPC's annual session due to coronavirus, China Global Television Network TV reported.
Every year, the NPC and the top advisory body Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), which together have over 5,000 members in their ranks, meet during March to approve the government's annual agenda including the budget.
Meanwhile, the China-World Health Organisation (WHO) joint expert team visited Hubei over the weekend to conduct field investigations, the NHC said.
The experts visited Tongji Hospital, the Wuhan Sports Centre that was converted into a temporary hospital, and the provincial centre for disease control and prevention to learn about the epidemic prevention and control as well as medical treatment, it said.
They also talked to the officials and experts in the province and briefed NHC director Ma Xiaowei on their findings and suggestions, it said.
Meanwhile, the Chinese Foreign Ministry resumed its regular press conferences in its premise doing away with the three-week-long online briefing through social media app weChat, in an apparent effort to show that things are returning to normalcy.
Correspondents were allowed to attend the press conference after furnishing health reports and temperature checks.
The briefing was conducted by Foreign Ministry's new spokesman Zhao Lijian, former Deputy Ambassador to Pakistan.
President Xi Jinping, who presided over a high-level meeting of officials on Sunday to review the progress of his government's efforts to contain the virus, warned that the epidemic is still 'grim and complex' and called for more efforts to tackle the country's 'largest public health emergency'.
Xi said the virus outbreak is a major public health emergency that has spread in the fastest speed, caused the most extensive infection and is the most difficult to contain in the country since the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949.
"This is both a crisis and a big test for us," Xi said, adding that after arduous work, the positive trend in the prevention and control work is now expanding.
"It has been proven that the CPC (Communist Party of China) Central Committee's judgment on the situation of the epidemic is accurate, all work arrangements are timely, and the measures taken are effective," Xi said defending his government's approach to contain the virus.
"The results of the prevention and control work have once again demonstrated the notable advantages of the leadership of the CPC and the system of socialism with Chinese characteristics," state-run Xinhua news agency quoted him as saying.