The country's National Health Commission said 2015 new cases were counted on Tuesday, the second straight daily decline and down from almost 3900 a week ago.
As for that other ship docked in Japan's Yokohama harbor - the number of infected aboard there has climbed to 175.
Zhong said that the peak of the outbreak should come "in mid or late February" based on mathematical models of the outbreak's virulence and Chinese government measures.
But he added that the apparent stabilisation in the number of new cases in China and the slower spread of cases outside Hubei province - where the virus first emerged - was reassuring.
Australia's chief medical officer was more circumspect, however.
"I think we will find a vaccine", she said.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has announced that "COVID-19" will now be the official name of the deadly virus from China, saying the disease represented a "very grave threat" for the world but there was a "realistic chance" of stopping it.
The WHO has been able to track down the source of transmission in all but eight of the 441 cases of the virus outside China, its head of emergencies Michael Ryan said. "So, we have to do everything today using the available weapons to fight this virus while preparing for the long term using the preparations for the vaccines", Tedros said. These include a sharply slowing domestic economy, the trade war with the US and push-back on China's increasingly aggressive foreign policies.
In addition to locking down Hubei, authorities have restricted movements in several other cities far from the epicentre in its unprecedented effort to contain the virus.
The biggest cluster of cases outside China is on a cruise ship quarantined off Japan's coast.
The two more British passengers on the Diamond Princess cruise ship brings the total number of Britons infected on the ship to three.
The 53-year-old man caught the virus while attending a conference in Singapore and then passed it on to several compatriots while on holiday in the French Alps, before finally being diagnosed back in Britain.
Global conferences are also being affected, with this week's Singapore Air Show - Asia's biggest - badly hit by exhibitors withdrawing and low attendance.