BEIJING, China, February 10, 2020 (ENS) – Chinese authorities are “carefully balancing” efforts to control the novel coronavirus epidemic and minimize its impact on the economy as millions of people headed back to work today after an extended holiday.
But as of today, the Wuhan coronavirus has killed more than 1,000 people globally since the outbreak began, according to authorities. More than 40,000 people on the Chinese mainland have been infected.
The official state-run news agency Xinhua reports that in a circular released over the weekend, China’s cabinet, the State Council, urged companies to make efforts to protect workers from getting infected yet at the same time resume production as soon as possible.
Wearing a mask, Chinese president Xi Jinping visited a residential community, a hospital and a district center for disease control and prevention in Beijing.
Companies providing epidemic control supplies, medical services, and daily necessities are among the first groups to resume work and have already begun racing back to full capacity to fight the coronavirus outbreak.
The virus was first detected in central China’s city of Wuhan in December. Transmitted easily, the spreading virus has kept people indoors over the New Year’s holiday and has led to a rush on protective masks and goggles.
About 73 percent of the country’s mask production capacity had been recovered by Friday, says Chen Da, an official with the National Development and Reform Commission, the country’s top economic planning agency. But supplies are expensive now. For medical masks, the rate has gone up 87 percent.
Courier companies also resumed service Monday as they are essential to guarantee the delivery of resources for epidemic control.
Logistics companies are expected to restore over 40 percent of their normal handling capacity by mid-February and continue to increase the capacity according to the development of the epidemic outbreak, according to the State Post Bureau.
The epidemic might disturb economic activities in the first quarter of this year, said Pan Gongsheng, vice governor of China’s central bank, but he then took a more hopeful view, predicting that the economy will steady shortly after the epidemic is contained, as the unleashing of pent-up demands will make up for previous weak economic performance during the outbreak.