More parts of China were locked down as virus cases soared ahead of the WHO visit

More parts of China were locked down as virus cases soared ahead of the WHO visit

A resident gets tested for the Covid-19 virus in the basement of an apartment complex as part of a comprehensive testing program after new cases of the virus emerged in Shijiazhuang, Hebei Province, central China, on January 12, 2021.

STR | Agence France-Presse | Getty Images

BEIJING – Local authorities in regions near Beijing are ramping up restrictions on social activity as cases of the novel coronavirus increase.

Langfang, about 1.5 hours south of downtown Beijing, asked its 5 million residents on Tuesday to stay indoors for seven days. The city is located in Hebei, which is the same as Shijiazhuang Province, which is a city of 11 million people Closed late last week After the high incidence of Coronavirus.

Shijiazhuang reported 39 new confirmed cases on Monday, while Langfang revealed one. This brings the total number of confirmed and asymptomatic cases in Hebei province to more than 500.

Separately, two regions in China’s northernmost province of Heilongjiang announced their lockdown on Tuesday. The province reported 1 new confirmed case and 36 asymptomatic cases for Monday.

Beijing reported one confirmed case on Monday. Since mid-December, the city has reported a handful of cases in a row, which has resulted in tightening restrictions on some apartment complexes and mass testing on the outskirts of the capital.

It was not immediately clear to what extent the local economy would be affected as there was no official order to stop work. Heilongjiang accounted for just over 1% of China’s GDP in 2019 and Hebei is about 3.6%. None of the provinces has economic importance compared to those in the southeast coastal parts of China.

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Representatives of European and American business associations in China said that members have not been significantly affected by the recent increase in virus cases. Economic activity generally slows down in late January through February as hundreds of millions of workers return to their hometowns in the Lunar New Year.

However, some provinces have begun to widely ban gatherings and events. The central government encourages people to stay in place during the Lunar New Year holiday which officially falls in mid-February of this year.

“The deteriorating situation of the coronavirus will affect economic activity, and markets may need to soften their expectations about strong pent-up consumption demand this coming summer holiday in mid-February,” Ting Lu, Nomura’s chief Chinese economist, said in a note on Monday. .

“With the deterioration of the virus situation and a cold winter for decades, growth has recovered some momentum in recent weeks,” he said. “The full recovery in the services sector may be delayed, as indicated by the weaker services PMI indicators in December.”

Official and private polls for the past month showed that the Services PMI, or PMI, remained in expansion territory but declined from November.

The Chinese economy shrank by 6.8% in the first quarter of last year as authorities locked down more than half of the country in an effort to control the outbreak.

WHO team to initiate an investigation

Covid-19 first appeared in late 2019 in the Chinese city of Wuhan. Authorities locked down the city by late January 2020, but the disease quickly spread to the rest of the world in a global pandemic. Coronavirus has since infected more than 90 million people around the world and killed more than 1.9 million.

On Thursday, a team from the World Health Organization He is scheduled to arrive in China To research the origin of the virus with local scientists. The World Health Organization said the study will start in Wuhan.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said a separate WHO team is working with Covid-19 vaccine producers from Chinese pharmaceutical companies Sinovac and Sinopharm to “assess compliance with international quality manufacturing practices before listing potential emergency use of the WHO.”

Beijing has opposed the idea that Covid-19 came from China. After the virus stopped spreading domestically last March, authorities blamed the subsequent spike in cases on foreign sources.

As for the recent outbreak, Hebei Province began reporting cases about 10 days ago. On Sunday, an epidemiologist from the Provincial Center for Disease Control Reporters The cases were likely caused by foreign sources who had contact with the county before December 15th.

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