China records no new coronavirus cases for the first time since the pandemic began

China recorded no new coronavirus cases on Friday — the country’s first clear day since the respiratory illness emerged in the city of Wuhan late last year.

The number of new cases dropped from four to zero between Thursday and Friday, China’s National Health Commission (NHC) said in a statement on Saturday.

The country has seen a sharp drop in locally transmitted cases since March, as major restrictions on movement helped it to take control of the epidemic in parts of the vast country.

No new deaths from COVID-19 have been reported for over a month.

However, China has continued to see an influx of imported cases, mainly involving Chinese nationals returning from abroad.

The NHC said Saturday that there were two new suspected cases in the country: an imported one in Shanghai and a locally transmitted case in Jilin.

New clusters of infections have also been confirmed in the northeastern border provinces of Jilin and Heilongjiang in recent weeks. Authorities shut down towns and villages in the area to stave off a second wave of infections.

Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak, also reported this month its first cluster of infections since a lockdown on the city ended in April. The spike prompted authorities to test all of Wuhan’s 11 million residents for COVID-19 and warn that social-distancing measures could not be relaxed.

The number of confirmed cases across the mainland stands at 82,971 and the death toll remains unchanged at 4,634.

China is also tracking asymptomatic cases, those people who carry the disease but exhibit no symptoms. Their number fell to 28 from 35 a day earlier, the NHC said.

Reuters contributed to this report.