Coronavirus update: China slows, HK surges

Guangdong added 28 new COVID-19 cases over the weekend, all imported from overseas, 21 of which were in Guangzhou, five in Shenzhen, one each in Zhuhai and Foshan. Hospitals released 14 patients, but are still treating 125 (116 imported), of which 34 are light, 85 normal, 2 severe, and 4 critical. (Data: Guangdong Health Commission)

Hong Kong confirmed 123 new cases over the weekend, and another 41 today, taking the city’s total number to 682 (118 discharged). (Data: Centre for Health Protection)

Macau confirmed another three cases over the weekend, taking its total to 28 imports (plus the original 10 local cases who were released). It also announced its first severe case, a 50-year-old local resident who is now on a ventilator. MI.

Across the rest of the country, 130 new cases were reported over the weekend, of which two were local (in Gansu and Henan). The numbers showed a successive decline, from 54 on Friday, to 45 on Saturday, to 31 on Sunday. The country’s two richest regions, Shanghai and Guangdong, reported the most. Beijing was not accepting any international flights. (Data: National Health Commission)

Related news from China:

  1. Leading global researchers believe it is likely that the new coronavirus did not, like Sars and Mers, jump recently from animals to humans, but instead took years, or even decades, to mutate within the global human population before becoming deadly. This refutes the conspiracy theory of the virus having been cooked up in a lab, yet it also supports the theory that Covid-19 did not necessarily begin in Wuhan. SCMP.
  2. Asymptomatic cases are generating contrasting responses from healthcare experts: some, like Zhong Nanshan, say these carriers don’t seem to be fuelling a resurgence of cases, so why worry about them, while the head of Shanghai’s response team says these carriers are the biggest threat among overseas returnees. SCMP.
  3. It has become clearer that China needs to invest more authority and resources in its Center for Disease Control (CDC), which operates without the same authority (and funding) of counterparts in developed countries. Chen Zuo at the University of Georgia explains why. Sixthtone.
  4. With the daily tally of Covid-19 cases surging, Hong Kong is under pressure to shift its strategy for the city’s hospital beds by isolating asymptomatic patients and those with mild symptoms at quarantine facilities in the community. SCMP.
  5. President Xi Jinping began a tour of production facilities in Zhejiang yesterday, which state media described as a clear message to get the economy back on track amid the “new normal” of dealing with the coronavirus. SCMP.
  6. The focus of efforts to spur recovery in China is important because of the economy’s structure, which has changed since the 2008 global financial crisis. Industries such as tourism, which accounts for 11% of GDP and 10% of jobs, cannot be bailed out by construction projects, for instance. Moreover, college graduates are more important than migrant workers. Read Caixin’s long feature.
  7. Defaults on credit cards and other forms of personal borrowing, such as Ant Financial’s online-lending business, surged in February, raising concerns about a wave of credit defaults rippling across China in the months to come. Although the country still has much lower personal debt levels than developed countries, the total amount has grown quickly in recent years, doubling since 2015 to 55 trillion yuan last year. SCMP.
  8. Banks in several Chinese cities have begun to loosen down payment requirements for home buyers and reduce mortgage rates as some local governments look to the property market to stimulate economies struggling to recover from the coronavirus epidemic. Caixin.

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