China Reports First Day of Zero Coronavirus Deaths or Symptomatic Cases as Wuhan Tests 11M Residents

China has recorded no new confirmed cases of the coronavirus for the first time since the outbreak began at the end of last year.

On Saturday, the country's National Health Commission said there were only two suspected cases in mainland China, one in Shanghai and one in the Jilian province in the northeast of the country. Meanwhile, the number of asymptomatic cases fell from 35 to 28, Beijing officials said.

The lack of new confirmed cases in China will come as a break for Beijing after earlier this month Wuhan reported its first cluster of cases since the outbreak began, prompting local authorities to test the city's 11 million residents.

Travel restrictions have helped China to keep the epidemic under control in large parts of the country, but Beijing has pushed back against the prospect of relaxing the strict measures it has implemented, citing new clusters of infections in the northeastern provinces of Jilin and Heilongjiang.

Additionally, Reuters reported on Saturday that China has continued to see an influx of imported cases, largely attributed to Chinese nationals that have returned home before the country limited its citizens' ability to travel.

Figures from Johns Hopkins University, which has been tracking the outbreak using combined data sources, indicate that over 4,600 deaths have been recorded in China since the outbreak of coronavirus was first identified in Wuhan in December last year.

In the six months since the virus first appeared in the biggest city of China's central Hubei province, there have been 84,081 reported cases in the country with over 79,300 confirmed recoveries. As of Saturday morning, the global infection toll reached 5.2 million, with more than 338,000 deaths and almost 2.1 million recoveries.

China has come under severe criticism for the way it has handled the coronavirus pandemic.

Beijing officials are accused of concealing vital information about the outbreak while pressuring the World Health Organization to downplay the severity of the crisis.

China has also been criticized by the West of deliberately carrying out a misinformation campaign aimed at shifting the focus on foreign nations' perceived inadequate response, while looking to absolve itself of any responsibilities for the outbreak.

Six months on since the novel coronavirus first emerged in Wuhan, its origins are yet to be fully ascertained.

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This file photo shows a medical worker taking a swab sample from a man being tested for the COVID-19 novel coronavirus in Wuhan in China's central Hubei province on April 16, 2020. HECTOR RETAMAL/AFP via Getty Images/Getty

One of the hypothesis suggests the virus originated from one of the city's wet markets, where the virus is believed to have jumped from bats to humans possibly via another animal acting as intermediary.

President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, however, have repeatedly alleged that the virus actually escaped from the Wuhan Institute of Virology.

Their claim has not been substantiated by any evidence and has served to stoke tensions between Washington and Beijing, a development in stark contrast with Trump's stance when the virus first emerged.

As the outbreak began, Trump praised China's response to the crisis and claimed the U.S. would work closely with Beijing to address the pandemic.

Meanwhile, the COVID-19 outbreak has dealt a major blow to China's economy.

On Friday, Beijing opted against setting a target for gross domestic product (GDP) growth for the first time in 30 years. In the first three months of the year, the Chinese economy shrank 6.8 percent, the first contraction since 1992 at least, and is expected to decline further over the course of the year. China has chosen not to set a GDP target for the first time since 1990, when it first began publishing estimates.

"We have not set a specific target for economic growth this year," Chinese premier Li Keqiang said at the opening of the National People's Congress on Friday. "This is because our country will face some factors that are difficult to predict in its development due to the great uncertainty regarding the COVID-19 pandemic and the world economic and trade environment."