China coronavirus epicentre records single-digit cases as restrictions eased

China has experienced eight new coronavirus infections in Hubei province, the first time the epicenter of the pandemic has recorded a single-digit daily count, as more companies reopened with local authorities cautiously easing measures strict containment.

As the spread of the virus continues to slow, Hubei Province on Thursday announced further relaxation of travel restrictions and will also allow some industries to resume production in two of its cities and two counties.

Hubei’s economy, driven by manufacturing and trade, including a large automotive sector in the provincial capital Wuhan, had been virtually shut down.

As the virus spreads rapidly worldwide, its progress in China has slowed markedly in the past seven days, following weeks of tough measures imposed to control the flow of people and the flow of traffic, including blocking virtual city of Wuhan, a city of 11 million people.

Wuhan reported all new cases on Wednesday, the National Health Commission said on Thursday. Outside Hubei, mainland China recorded seven new cases, six of which were imported from abroad.

Of the six imported cases, Guangdong province accounted for three, while Gansu province and Henan province were responsible for two and one, respectively.

Overall, the 15 new cases confirmed in mainland China on Wednesday were down from 24 cases a day earlier.

This brings the total number of confirmed cases registered in mainland China to 80,793. On Tuesday, 62,793 people recovered and were discharged from hospital, accounting for almost 80% of all infections.

By the end of Wednesday, the death toll in mainland China had reached 3,169, 11 more than the previous day. Hubei is responsible for 10 of the new deaths, including seven in Wuhan.

The ruling Communist Party daily The People’s Daily warned in an editorial that, although the number of new virus cases in China is declining, conditions are still difficult and there is a risk of further epidemics.

Focus on relaunching production

China is focusing on restarting factories and businesses hit by strict containment policies that prevented millions of people from traveling and returning to work after the extended Chinese Lunar New Year holidays.

Factory activity plunged to its lowest level ever in February, and as more companies have reopened in recent weeks as containment measures are eased, analysts do not expect the activity returns to normal levels before April.

Airlines have been particularly hard hit in recent weeks, with Chinese airlines reporting a total loss of 20.96 billion yuan in February. The total number of airline passengers fell last month by 84.5% year on year compared to the same period last year, the Chinese aviation regulator said on Thursday.

Local governments must do everything they can to make sure people get back to work as soon as possible, said the China Daily in an editorial.

Many companies continue to face labor shortages and supply chain disruptions, said the China Daily.

“The measures to combat the epidemics have strained Chinese companies, especially small and medium-sized enterprises in the service sector,” he added.

“Any further delay in returning to normal activities will lead to widespread bankruptcies and job losses, which will threaten social stability.”

The Hubei government said Wednesday that Wuhan would allow some key industries to return to work.

On Thursday, he said further loosening of containment measures would apply to the cities of Qianjian and Shishou, the counties of Gongan and Zhuxi, and would vary depending on local conditions.

In Zhuxi County, some industries are allowed to return to work, but service-related industries such as cinemas, bars and restaurants cannot return to work.

In Qianjiang, a city of 1 million, the government has announced that it will organize special transportation for people to return to work, or from other provinces, and be allowed to travel within the province. .

(REUTERS)