Some businesses allowed to resume in China's virus epicenter Wuhan

12, Mar. 2020

BEIJING, Kyodo - Some industries in the locked-down Chinese city of Wuhan at the center of the coronavirus outbreak can resume work, the Hubei provincial government said Wednesday, as new virus cases there have fallen significantly.

Key sectors such as utilities, public transport and producers of medical supplies and daily necessities have been given the green light to go back online, while industries that "have a significant impact on the national and global supply chains" can also resume production upon approval, the government said in a notice.

(A large screen in the street shows Chinese president Xi Jinping wearing a protective mask during his visit to Wuhan on March 10, 2020 on CCTV's evening newscast in Beijing.)[Getty/Kyodo]
(A large screen in the street shows Chinese president Xi Jinping wearing a protective mask during his visit to Wuhan on March 10, 2020 on CCTV's evening newscast in Beijing.)[Getty/Kyodo]

Surrounding medium- and low-risk areas in Hubei Province, of which Wuhan is the capital, have also eased restrictions on travel and work for healthy people. But schools and universities in the province will remain closed until further notice.

The decision comes a day after President Xi Jinping visited Wuhan for the first time since the outbreak began late last year, signaling the central government's confidence that it has brought the epidemic under control.

Japanese automaker Honda Motor Co. said Wednesday it has partially restarted production in Wuhan, with rival Nissan Motor Co. saying limited operations will resume at its Hubei factory by the end of this week.

Honda's move means the automaker has effectively rebooted manufacturing at all its sites in China after the outbreak disrupted factory operations.

(Photo taken in April 2019 shows Honda Motor Co.'s plant in Wuhan.)
(Photo taken in April 2019 shows Honda Motor Co.'s plant in Wuhan.)

Earlier in the day China's health authorities reported 24 additional cases of novel coronavirus infection on the mainland, marking the fourth day in a row that the number of newly reported cases was under 50. Overall cases in mainland China reached 80,778.

Of the newly confirmed cases, 13 were in Hubei, and one in northeastern China's Heilongjiang Province, with the remaining 10 all being people coming from abroad infected, the National Health Commission said.

As global infection numbers surge, China has become increasingly vigilant toward imported infections. So far, the country has confirmed 79 cases in passengers arriving from overseas, according to health authorities.

After reporting six new imported cases on Wednesday, Beijing, which had already enforced a 14-day quarantine and observation for those traveling from severely infected countries, including Japan, South Korea, Iran and Italy, said it will extend the policy to all arrivals from overseas.

Those who are making a short visit to Beijing or transiting through the capital to conduct business in other parts of China will be required to undergo a nucleic acid test for the virus while staying at a designated hotel.

They will only be allowed to leave once results come back negative, a city official told a press briefing on Wednesday.

There were 22 new deaths from COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, in the 24 hours to the end of Tuesday, all of them in Hubei, raising the nationwide toll to 3,158.

By the end of Tuesday, all of Wuhan's 16 temporary hospitals had closed as the number of COVID-19 patients continues to drop in the city.

Meanwhile, the death toll from a collapsed hotel used as a coronavirus quarantine facility in southeast China's Fujian Province rose to 28 with one person still missing, local media reported.

A total of 71 people, including 58 under quarantine, were in the Xinjia Express Hotel in the coastal city of Quanzhou when it collapsed Saturday evening.

The 66-room hotel was illegally constructed and has repeatedly violated regulations, Shang Yong, a senior official of the Ministry of Emergency Management, told a press conference on Tuesday. (Kyodo)