More parts of China lock down as virus cases spike ahead of WHO visit

A resident undergoes a Covid-19 coronavirus check on the basement of a residential compound as half of a mass testing programme following new cases of the virus rising in Shijiazhuang, in central China’s Hebei province on Jan. 12, 2021.

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BEIJING — Local authorities in areas close to Beijing are stepping up restrictions on social exercise as new coronavirus cases develop.

Langfang metropolis, situated about 1.5-hours south of downtown Beijing, informed its practically 5 million residents on Tuesday to remain dwelling for the following seven days. The metropolis is in Hebei, the identical province as Shijiazhuang, a metropolis of 11 million folks that locked down late final week after a spike in coronavirus cases.

Shijiazhuang reported 39 new confirmed cases for Monday, whereas Langfang disclosed one. That introduced the entire quantity of present confirmed and asymptomatic cases in Hebei province to greater than 500 folks.

Separately, two areas of China’s northernmost province of Heilongjiang introduced lockdowns on Tuesday. The province reported one new confirmed case and 36 asymptomatic ones for Monday.

Beijing reported one confirmed case for Monday. Since mid-December, the town has reported a handful of cases in shut succession, prompting tighter restrictions on some residence compounds and mass testing on the outskirts of the nation’s capital metropolis.

It was not instantly clear to what extent the native financial system can be affected as there was no official order to halt work. Heilongjiang accounted for simply over 1% of China’s GDP in 2019 and Hebei about 3.6%. Neither province is as necessary economically in contrast with these within the southeastern, coastal parts of China.

Representatives for European and American enterprise associations in China mentioned members weren’t considerably affected by the newest enhance in virus cases. Economic exercise typically slows down in late January via February as a whole bunch of thousands and thousands of employees return to their hometowns for the Lunar New Year.

However, some provinces have begun to announce bans on large-scale gatherings and occasions. The central authorities is encouraging folks to remain put throughout the Lunar New Year vacation that formally falls in mid-February this yr.

“The worsening coronavirus situation will impact economic activity, and markets may need to temper their expectations for strong pent-up consumption demand in the coming LNY holidays in mid-February,” Ting Lu, chief China economist at Nomura, mentioned in a notice Monday.

“With the worsening virus situation and the coldest winter in decades, growth recovery lost some momentum in recent weeks,” he mentioned. “A full recovery in the services sector could be delayed, as suggested by weaker services PMI indices in December.”

Both official and personal surveys for final month confirmed that the companies PMI, or Purchasing Managers’ Index, remained in growth territory however fell from November.

China’s financial system shrank 6.8% within the first quarter of final yr as authorities shut down greater than half the nation in an try to regulate the outbreak.

WHO crew to start investigation

Covid-19 first emerged in late 2019 within the Chinese metropolis of Wuhan. Authorities locked down the town by late January 2020, however the illness quickly unfold to the remainder of the world in a worldwide pandemic. The coronavirus has since contaminated greater than 90 million worldwide and killed over 1.9 million folks.

On Thursday, a crew from the World Health Organization is set to reach in China to analysis the origins of the virus with native scientists. The WHO mentioned the examine will start in Wuhan.

A separate WHO crew is working with producers of Covid-19 vaccines from Chinese pharmaceutical firms Sinovac and Sinopharm “to assess compliance with international quality manufacturing practices ahead of potential emergency use listing by WHO,” mentioned WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

Beijing has pushed again in opposition to the concept that Covid-19 got here from China. After the unfold of the virus stalled domestically final March, authorities have blamed subsequent spikes in cases on overseas sources.

For the newest outbreak, Hebei province started to report cases about 10 days in the past. On Sunday, an epidemiologist from the provincial illness management heart informed reporters the cases possible stemmed from overseas sources that have been in touch with the province earlier than December 15.

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