A resident is being tested for Covid-19 coronavirus in the basement of a residential complex as part of a mass testing program following new cases of the virus in Shijiazhuang, central Chinese province of Hebei, on January 12, 2021.
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BEIJING – Local authorities in regions near Beijing are tightening restrictions on social activity as new cases of coronavirus increase.
The city of Langfang, located about 1
Shijiazhuang reported 39 new confirmed cases on Monday, while Langfang revealed one. This has led to a total of more than 500 confirmed and asymptomatic cases in Hebei Province.
Separately, two regions of China’s northernmost province of Heilongjiang announced blockades on Tuesday. The province reported a new confirmed case and 36 asymptomatic on Monday.
Beijing reported a confirmed case Monday. Since mid-December, the city has reported several cases in immediate succession, imposing stricter restrictions on some residential complexes and mass tests on the outskirts of the country’s capital.
It was not clear to what extent the local economy would be affected, as there is no formal suspension order. Heilongjiang accounted for just over 1% of China’s GDP in 2019, and Hebei about 3.6%. None of the provinces is as economically important as those in the southeastern coastal parts of China.
Representatives of European and American business associations in China said members were not significantly affected by the recent increase in virus cases. Economic activity usually slows from late January to February as hundreds of millions of workers return to their hometowns for the Lunar New Year.
However, some provinces have begun banning large-scale gatherings and events. The central government encourages people to stay in place during the lunar New Year’s holiday, which officially falls in mid-February this year.
“The deteriorating coronavirus situation will affect economic activity and markets may need to ease expectations of strong consumption retention over the upcoming LNY holidays in mid-February,” Ting Lu, China’s chief economist at Nomura, said in a note Monday.
“With the deteriorating viral situation and the coldest winter in decades, growth has lost some momentum in recent weeks,” he said. “Full recovery in the services sector may be delayed, as suggested by the weaker PMI indices for services in December.”
Both official and private surveys last month showed that the PMI of services or the index of purchasing managers remained in the expansion zone, but fell from November.
China’s economy shrank 6.8 percent in the first quarter of last year, when authorities closed more than half of the country in a bid to control the outbreak.
The WHO team to launch an investigation
Covid-19 first appeared in late 2019 in the Chinese city of Wuhan. Authorities locked the city until the end of January 2020, but the disease soon spread to the rest of the world in a global pandemic. Since then, the coronavirus has infected more than 90 million people worldwide and killed more than 1.9 million people.
A team from the World Health Organization is due to arrive in China on Thursday to study the origin of the virus with local scientists. The WHO said the study would begin in Wuhan.
A separate WHO team is working with Covid-19 vaccine manufacturers from Chinese pharmaceutical companies Sinovac and Sinopharm “to assess compliance with international manufacturing quality practices before the WHO list of potential emergencies,” said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Gebreesus.
Beijing has given way to the idea that Covid-19 comes from China. After the spread of the virus stopped inside the country in March last year, authorities blamed further spikes in cases from foreign sources.
Hebei Province started reporting the latest outbreak about 10 days ago. On Sunday, an epidemiologist with the provincial Centers for Disease Control told reporters that the cases probably came from foreign sources who had been in contact with the province before December 15th.