WUHAN, China (Reuters) – China stepped up efforts to cure the world’s second largest economy on Monday as health officials reported a further drop in new coronavirus cases, although the country remains cautious about overseas disease carriers and infected people are no symptoms.
People wearing face masks ride their scooters and walk on a street after a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Beijing, China, on March 30, 2020. REUTERS / Carlos Garcia Rawlins
The city of Wuhan, the source of the pandemic, did not report any new cases on a sixth day when the shops reopened and residents recovered a more normal life after an almost two-month ban.
It turned out that employees in masks and gloves were waiting to greet customers at the entrances to the newly opened Wuhan International Plaza, which houses boutiques of luxury brands like Cartier and Louis Vuitton.
“The Wuhan International Plaza is very representative (for the city),” said Zhang Yu, 29. “When it reopened, I really felt that this city was being brought back to life.”
Electric car maker Tesla Inc has also reopened a showroom in Wuhan.
The number of 31 new cases in mainland China on Sunday – including a locally transmitted infection and 30 imported cases – fell from 45 the previous day, the National Health Commission said.
As infections decrease, policymakers are trying to revitalize an economy that has been crippled by months of curbs to control the spread of the flu-like illness.
On Monday, the central bank unexpectedly cut interest rates on reverse repurchase agreements by 20 basis points, the largest in nearly five years.
The government is pressing for companies and factories to reopen as it introduces fiscal and monetary stimuli to fear the recovery from what is feared to be a complete economic slowdown in the quarter to March.
China’s exports and imports could deteriorate as the pandemic spreads and domestic and foreign demand depresses, Xin Guobin, deputy minister of industry and information technology, said Monday.
Concerned about a second wave triggered by the return of Chinese, including many students, China has massively cut international flights indefinitely since Sunday after refusing entry to almost all foreigners the day before.
An average daily arrival at airports this week is expected to be 4,000, up from 25,000 last week, an official from the Chinese Civil Aviation Authority said on Monday.
Returning to work has also raised concerns about possible domestic infections as curbs are retracted, particularly with regard to carriers who have no or very mild symptoms of the highly contagious virus.
According to Hubei authorities, 4.6 million people returned to work in the province by Saturday, of which 2.8 million were traveling to other parts of China.
Most of the migrant migrants left for the southern provinces of Guangdong and Fujian, the eastern provinces of Jiangsu and Zhejiang, and northeast China.
The northwestern province of Gansu reported a new case of a traveler from central Hubei who returned with a virus-free health code.
Authorities in Zhejiang Province said that asymptomatic pneumonia patients were subject to the same quarantine conditions as confirmed cases, including 14 days in isolation centers.
Prime Minister Li Keqiang said Monday that China will step up screening, quarantine and treatment of cases, including those who have been in close contact with confirmed or asymptomatic coronavirus patients.
China is likely to release data on asymptomatic patients, government-controlled financial magazine Yicai said, citing an unnamed expert who is closely related to policy making. However, no time frame was specified.
Many asymptomatic people are infected patients who are undergoing an incubation period, and in some areas up to 70% of these asymptomatic carriers eventually become confirmed cases, Yicai quoted the experts.
At the Wuhan International Plaza, shoppers had to queue for temperature tests 1 1/2 meters away while “green” cell phone codes flashed to confirm a clean health certificate.
“Being able to be healthy and leave home and meet other colleagues who are also healthy is a very happy thing,” said Wang Xueman, a cosmetic sales representative.
Interactive graphical tracking of coronavirus distribution worldwide: here
Reporting by Brenda Goh, Thomas Suen, Se Young Lee, Roxanne Liu, Lusha Zhang, Huizhong Wu, Liangping Gao, Yilei Sun, Gabriel Crossley, Judy Hua, Colin Qian and Ryan Woo in Beijing and Josh Horwitz in Shanghai; Edited by Lincoln Feast, Clarence Fernandez and Hugh Lawson