People wear protective face masks as they walk down Whitehall in the Spring sunshine on Wednesday in central London. (Photo: AFP)
Confirmed cases of COVID-19 imported to China from the UK have reached 159, topping the total of 541 cases from 34 countries, data shows.
A further 67 confirmed infections from abroad were reported on Wednesday, 24 of which were from the UK. As of press time, 159 cases have been confirmed from the UK, accounting for 29.4 percent of the total number of imported cases.
The UK previously provoked a storm of criticism over the government's "herd immunity" strategy, which would allow more than half of its population to contract COVID-19 so it could build up immunity, a move that experts believed would imperil people's health and even lives.
As of 9 am local time Wednesday, 9,529 people have been tested positive in the UK, of whom 463 have died.
Ninety percent of the total 541 imported COVID-19 cases in China hold Chinese passports, and 40 percent of them are overseas students, Luo Zhaohui, vice foreign minister of China, said at a press conference on Thursday in Beijing.
The number of Chinese students at UK universities rose by 34 percent in the past five years, BBC reported in January. The report said there were 120,000 Chinese students in the country in 2018-19.
The number of Chinese people studying overseas reached 662,100 in 2018, 53,700 more than in 2017, according to the Ministry of Education, Xinhua News Agency reported in March 2019.
Effectively curbing the rise of imported COVID-19 cases has become a priority of China's epidemic prevention and control.
Luo reminded Chinese overseas students to refrain from heading to places with a high risk of infection and to avoid all non-essential travels.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry will continue to provide help to overseas students in need, he noted, adding that Chinese Foreign Ministry hotlines have received 70,000 calls from overseas Chinese on issues related to COVID-19.