Coronavirus update

Daily wrap: 2/14/2020

Health-related news

  1. As of 9 am today, Guangdong had reported 1,261 confirmed cases related to the virus, adding only 20 new infections from the previous day, in a steady decline from the number of over 100 two weeks ago. Shenzhen has 400 (+9), Guangzhou 328 (+1), Zhuhai 91 (+2), Foshan 82 (+1), Dongguan 73 (+3), Zhongshan 64 (+0), Huizhou 56 (+1), Jiangmen 22 (+0) and Zhaoqing 17 (+1), according to the Guangdong Health Commission.
  2. Hong Kong reported three more confirmed coronavirus infections today, bringing the total to 56. SCMP.
  3. Macau, virus-free for 10 days, is preparing its residents to go back to work, issuing a series of guidelines for how their employers should manage it. These include “electronic health declarations”. MI.
  4. In Hubei, epicentre of the outbreak, 4,832 new cases were reported today, a sharp slide from the previous day’s 14,840 while still well above the province’s average level before yesterday, bringing the total to 51,986. The death toll rose to 1,426, with 116 new deaths added, down 126 from the previously reported 242 daily increase, according to Hubei Health Commission.
  5. A total of 1,716 medical staff have been infected with COVID-19 to date, the majority in Hubei province, accounting for 3.8% of total confirmed infections in the country. Six had died, said Deputy Director of the National Health Commission Zeng Yixin. Yicai.
  6. Shenzhen announced it will set aside a budget for various awards for projects with scientific breakthroughs on virus containment, with up to 8 million yuan to early-stage pharmaceutical projects and as high as 100 million yuan to key projects. Sznews.com.
  7. Guangdong has set up 1966 checkpoints across its rural areas and convened a team of some 10,000 local villages to conduct home visits, in a bid to prevent the spread of coronavirus from urban areas. Nanfang Daily.
  8. Following Shenzhen and Guangzhou, Guangdong’s authorities unveiled on Thursday 18 measures aimed at supporting SMEs hit by the coronavirus outbreak, including cutting interest rates by 5% to 10% and waiving different categories of taxes or fees. Nanfang Daily.
  9. More than 300 Chinese businesses, including Meituan Dianping, Xiaomi Corp and Didi, are seeking bank loans totalling more than 57.4 billion yuan to relieve the financial burden caused by the coronavirus outbreak, according to banking sources. Reuters.

Daily wrap: 2/13/2020

Health-related news

  1. As of 9 am today, Guangdong had reported 1,241 confirmed cases related to the virus, adding only 22 new infections from the previous day. Shenzhen has 391 (+5), Guangzhou 327 (+4), Zhuhai 89 (+2), Foshan 81 (+3), Dongguan 70 (+3), Zhongshan 64 (+2), Huizhou 55 (+1), Jiangmen 22 (+1) and Zhaoqing 16 (+0), according to the Guangdong Health Commission.
  2. A Hong Kong civil servant working at government headquarters is suspected to have contracted the coronavirus, while another patient has been confirmed as the 51st person infected in the city. SCMP. 
  3. Macau has reported no new coronavirus cases for nine straight days, while the second and third of its previously confirmed 10 cases have been discharged from hospital. Gov.mo
  4. In Hubei, epicentre of the outbreak, 14,840 new cases were reported today, a nearly tenfold increase from the previous day, bringing the total to 48,206. The death toll rose to 1,310, with 242 new deaths added, up 138 from the previously reported 94 daily increase, according to Hubei Health Commission.
  5. The abruptly increasing number was due to a change in the diagnostic criteria of the infections, with patients who have lungs showing symptoms in CT scans also included. Such cases were only considered as suspected previously. Xinhua. 
  6. Hongkongers stranded in Hubei should be brought back to the city and quarantined on a cruise ship, lawmakers have suggested. SCMP.
  7. Hong Kong schools will remain closed until March 16 and an important exam for primary school pupils has been cancelled. SCMP.
  8. Students who cross the border to study in Hong Kong are stuck in limbo, they say, plagued by uncertainty over a timeline for the resumption of classes and the possible deferment of major exams. SCMP.
  9. It took 13 days on average for a coronavirus-infected patient to be discharged in Guangdong, the longest provincial level second only to Hubei. As explained by the provincial health commission, this is due to the fact that a high proportion of Guangdong’s patients were in critical conditions, as the cases, largely imported from other provinces, already had a complicated illness before being hospitalized. Nanfang Daily.
  10. Zhuhai has made its maternal and child health-care institution as the hospital dedicated to housing coronavirus infections. It is expected to accommodate some 580 patients in three months, although the city currently has only 89 confirmed cases. Nanfang Daily.
  11. In efforts to restore the province’s business operation, Guangdong would provide subsidies from 1000 yuan to 10,000 yuan to workers employed by the companies involved in the production or distribution of virus-related resources, or the locals who set up businesses in their hometown. Nanfang Daily.
  12. The coronavirus, named as COVID-19 by WHO, has been identified from faeces by the teams of Zhong Nanshan and Li Lanjuan – two top experts at the National Health Commission – separately, raising further concern over the transmission through faeces. Xinhua.

Economic-impact news

  1. President Xi Jinping says progress had been made in bringing the outbreak under control and, for most parts of the country, the focus should be on getting back to business. SCMP.
  2. The outbreak is expected to significantly worsen China’s fiscal situation that is already under pressure from an economic slowdown, raising the question over whether Beijing can afford to loosen the purse strings to help, analysts said. SCMP.
  3. The challenges facing China’s economy are acute among upstream industries, particularly in commodities, where large inventories had been piling up even before the virus outbreak. Caixin.
  4. The IMF sees China’s economy rebounding from the outbreak, though it admits that “uncertainty is high”. Bloomberg.
  5. Macau has announced a series of relief measures, including a “digital voucher” worth MOP3,000 that can be spent at restaurants, shops, and other outlets. MI.
  6. Hong Kong’s biggest landlords are responding to the Financial Secretary’s call for them to do their “social responsibility” and cut rents. (Not yet Li Ka-shing’s Cheung Kong, however.) SCMP.
  7. Guangzhou and Shenzhen have rolled out a series of measures to support SMEs, ranging from financial aid, to tax cuts, to rental relief. Banks have been told not to foreclose on any loans, while state-owned banks are increasing their lending quotas to SMEs. But companies are still concerned. GBI.

Daily wrap: 2/12/2020

Health-related news

  1. As of 9 am today, Guangdong had reported 1,219 confirmed cases related to the virus, adding 42 new infections from the previous day. Most came in the two megacities: Shenzhen has 386 (+11), Guangzhou 323 (+6), Zhuhai 87 (+1), Foshan 78 (+8), Dongguan 67 (+5), Zhongshan 62 (+4), Huizhou 54 (+1), Jiangmen 21 (+1) and Zhaoqing 16 (+1), according to the Guangdong Health Commission, which has stopped giving afternoon updates.
  2. Hong Kong has reported one new confirmed case, bringing the total to 50. The city also discharged its first recovered patient today, as officials said several other patients would be allowed to leave hospital soon. SCMP.
  3. Macau has had no new cases for eight straight days, while only 21 suspected cases are still awaiting test results to be ruled out. Gov.mo.
  4. In Hubei, epicentre of the outbreak, 2,097 new cases were reported today, down 521 from the previous day, bringing the total to 33,366, with 1,068 deaths, up 94 from the previous day but lower than the previously reported 103 daily increase. Outside Hubei, Guangdong, Henan and Zhejiang are the top three provinces in terms of total infection numbers, reporting 1,219, 1,135 and 1,131 cases today, respectively. However, all are showing trends of slowing growth in new infections.
  5. National authorities are trying to get local authorities to ease up on containment efforts as it becomes clear that resuming work across the country is proving more difficult than anticipated due to overzealous monitoring of companies and restrictions on workers returning. gov.cn.
  6. Foshan has posted an official notice on its website outlining the priorities for local cadres in following the central government’s directives to fight both the outbreak and get everyone back to work. It’s clearly no easy task. GBI.
  7. In a bid to control the supply and prices of food amid the outbreak, Guangdong has set up a digital platform for fresh food trade with more than 1300 companies joining,  including agricultural products providers, food processing companies and restaurant chains. Nanfang Daily.
  8. Guangdong has issued a series of measures aimed at helping the reopening of businesses after the prolonged Chinese New Year holiday, with a registration system set for the companies planning to resume work and subsidies for the IP-heavy companies. Nanfang Daily.
  9. Dongguan has reported 4,491 enterprises resumed businesses as of Monday, 80% of which are manufacturers. Many companies now operate in shifts to keep staff gatherings as low as possible. Nanfang Daily.
  10. Shenzhen is going to test some 6,000 residents under self-quarantine for virus in multiple districts starting tomorrow, in a bid to prevent a community outbreak. Sznews.com.

Economic-impact news

  1. The Ministry of Finance made an early allocation of special-purpose bond quotas to local governments, totalling 290 billion yuan, in efforts to stimulate the economy. Along with 1 trillion yuan allocated last November, this has reached the cap of early bond quota allocation for local government in 2020. Caixin.
  2. Hong Kong and China stocks posted broad gains today, on expectations Beijing will add further liquidity into the financial system. SCMP.
  3. Economists are weighing in with predictions that Beijing will likely use stimulus policies to boost the economy so as to hit its golden target of 6% in 2020:
  • Alicia Herrero writes in Caixin that this will hurt the economy in the longer term by saddling it with more debt. 
  • Neal Kimberley writes in SCMP that markets should be pricing in large-scale stimulus measures because it is the politically astute thing to do.
  • Credit Agricole has boldly called the peak, and predicted a V-shaped rebound to come. SCMP.
  • The team at Trivium China isn’t convinced, saying measures introduced so far show Beijing is trying to be as narrowly targeted as possible in its response.
  • The team at Gavekal Dragonomics also argues that it is too early to assume the PBOC is going to abandon its policy of selective easing and aggressively cut rates, as it still has reasons to hold to its conservative policy stance. 
  1. As office workers in many mainland companies are working from home during the outbreak, office applications developed by Tencent and Huawei are among the popular choices. Sznews.com.
  2. Drone king DJI and other GBA unicorns are bringing robotics to the coronavirus fight. GBI.

Backgrounders

  1. Gabriel Leung, Hong Kong’s virus expert helping the WHO analyse the Wuhan outbreak, says there is still much to learn about the new coronavirus. He reminds that during Sars, accurate case fatality rates took time to ascertain, so it is too early to assume this virus is not as lethal. NYT.
  2. Doctors on the front lines are concerned about how the virus behaves in severe cases. Unlike Sars, it often causes minor symptoms at the beginning but then accelerates once a certain point is crossed, and it can cause infected people to deteriorate faster. Caixin.
  3. Donald Low looks at the psychological dimensions of the crisis and explains why we tend to overreact to scares like the current outbreak, mostly because we rely on our error-prone memory system when thinking about how future crises might evolve. SCMP. 
  4. Questions are being raised about the WHO’s credibility as mounting evidence suggests that it downplayed the risks early on and was too quick to praise the Chinese government’s transparency efforts. Washington Post. A former official has come to the WHO’s defence, saying these questions “can be addressed later”. SCMP.
  5. The disinfection of the Wuhan seafood market believed to be the origin of the outbreak means it will be virtually impossible to trace the source of the pathogen, according to “virus hunter” Walter Ian Lipkin. Caixin.
  6. What is the difference between a Case Fatality Rate and a Mortality Rate? Here is a good explainer. Caixin.
  7. The coronavirus didn’t necessarily come from the Wuhan seafood market, but it may also be deadlier than is currently evident, based on an examination of the earliest patients. This is according to a study done by Chinese researchers and doctors in Wuhan, published by Lancet. Vox.
  8. The coronavirus may have originated in bats, but there is no evidence to suggest that the virus was passed along by people eating wild animals. Rather, it is more likely that poor conditions in the country’s animal food-processing system are the culprit. Foreign Policy. 
  9. To keep in mind how hard it is to control an outbreak, read the Wikipedia report about the 2009-2010 H1N1 outbreak, which originated in North America and killed as many as 500,000 people worldwide, few of whom were in China.
  10. Differences between the US and Chinese methodology of counting flu-related deaths explains their contrasting numbers. When examined more carefully, it shows that China has a bigger challenge preventing the spread of flu. Global Times.

Daily wrap: 2/11/2020

Health-related news

  1. As of 9 am today, Guangdong had reported 1177 confirmed cases related to the virus, adding 18 new infections from the previous day. Most came in the two megacities: Shenzhen has 375 (+6), Guangzhou 317 (+3), Zhuhai 86 (+1), Foshan 70 (+0), Dongguan 62 (+2), Zhongshan 58 (+2), Huizhou 53 (+1), Zhaoqing 15 (+0), and Jiangmen 20 (+0), according to the Guangdong Health Commission.
  2. Hong Kong has reported seven new confirmed cases, bringing the total to 49, while four more residents of a Hong Kong public housing estate where 23 households were evacuated over coronavirus fears have developed symptoms of the illness. SCMP.
  3. Macau has had no new cases for seven straight days, while only 31 suspected cases are still awaiting test results. Gov.mo.
  4. In Hubei, epicentre of the outbreak, 2097 new cases were reported today, down 521 from the previous day, bringing the total to 31,728, with 974 deaths, up 103 from the previous day. Outside Hubei, Guangdong, Zhejiang and Henan are the top three provinces in terms of total infection numbers, reporting 1177, 1117 and 1105 cases today, up 26, 25 and 32, respectively. However, all are showing trends of slowing growth in new infections.
  5. The incubation period of the virus can be up to 24 days while the existence of super-transmitters cannot be excluded, according to a team of top Chinese health experts led by Zhong Nanshan. Yicai.
  6. National authorities are trying to get local authorities to ease up on containment efforts as it becomes clear that resuming work across the country is proving more difficult than anticipated due to overzealous monitoring of companies and restrictions on workers returning. gov.cn.
  7. Railway stations in Guangdong have seen a steep decline in traffic compared to the usual post-CNY period, recording up to 87% fewer daily passengers. Nanfang Daily.
  8. While some factories like Foxconn, the supplier of Apple products, have reported fewer than 10% of staff have returned, Xinhua’s reporters have found the average is 40%-70% among Guangdong companies surveyed. Xinhua.
  9. Guangdong has passed an emergency law banning the consumption and trade of wild animals. It has also authorised county-level governments to exercise temporary administrative measures in a range of virus-related issues including medical care, quarantine and transportation. Guangzhou Daily.
  10. Guangdong has halted all the shuttle bus routes between the province and Hong Kong since Saturday, saying this is in cooperation with Hong Kong. Guangzhou Daily.
  11. Guangdong’s official labour union has set aside 5 million yuan to subsidize the medical staff working on the frontline of the virus battle in the province, including 30,000 yuan to infected staff and 5,000 yuan to family members. Guangzhou Daily.

Economic-impact news

  1. The outbreak has hit small businesses especially hard, with most saying they are suffering a severe cash crunch. A survey of SMEs shows 34% can only survive for one month on current savings; 33.1% for two months, and 17.91% for three months. Banks have been told to roll over loans, but analysts are concerned about the government’s relief measures not working as intended. Caixin.
  2. Hong Kong and China stocks posted broad gains today, on expectations Beijing will add further liquidity into the financial system. SCMP.
  3. However, noted economist El-Erian is not a buyer: “I worry that many analysts do not fully appreciate the notable differences between financial and economic sudden stops. Rather than confidently declare a V, economic modelers need more time and evidence to assess the impact on the Chinese economy and the related spillovers – a consideration that is made even more important by two observations. First, the Chinese economy was already in an unusually fragile situation because of the impact of trade tensions with the U.S. Second, it has been navigating a tricky economic development transition that has snared many countries before China in the “middle income trap.” Bloomberg.
  4. With limited ability to transport goods during the outbreak, volumes of traded steel have plummeted. Prices of raw materials and finished products are falling in response to dwindling demand as many factories are closed to curb the epidemic’s spread. Some steel companies have experienced a drop in asset value and have begun panic selling. Caixin.
  5. The crisis is pushing Hong Kong’s home rentals further down a slippery slope, making it firmly a tenant’s market. SCMP.
  6. Hong Kong’s IPO market is grinding to a halt and roadshows are spluttering as bankers and dealmakers stay at home and Chinese managers cannot meet investors. SCMP.
  7. Investors betting on Chinese medical-related stocks are reaping a windfall in the onshore stock market, as the coronavirus outbreak has led to a surge in demand for supplies and equipment. SCMP.

Backgrounders

  1. Gabriel Leung, Hong Kong’s virus expert helping the WHO analyse the Wuhan outbreak, says there is still much to learn about the new coronavirus. He reminds that during Sars, accurate case fatality rates took time to ascertain, so it is too early to assume this virus is not as lethal. NYT.
  2. Doctors on the front lines are concerned about how the virus behaves in severe cases. Unlike Sars, it often causes minor symptoms at the beginning but then accelerates once a certain point is crossed, and it can cause infected people to deteriorate faster. Caixin.
  3. Donald Low looks at the psychological dimensions of the crisis and explains why we tend to overreact to scares like the current outbreak, mostly because we rely on our error-prone memory system when thinking about how future crises might evolve. SCMP. 
  4. Questions are being raised about the WHO’s credibility as mounting evidence suggests that it downplayed the risks early on and was too quick to praise the Chinese government’s transparency efforts. Washington Post. A former official has come to the WHO’s defence, saying these questions “can be addressed later”. SCMP.
  5. The disinfection of the Wuhan seafood market believed to be the origin of the outbreak means it will be virtually impossible to trace the source of the pathogen, according to “virus hunter” Walter Ian Lipkin. Caixin.
  6. What is the difference between a Case Fatality Rate and a Mortality Rate? Here is a good explainer. Caixin.
  7. The coronavirus didn’t necessarily come from the Wuhan seafood market, but it may also be deadlier than is currently evident, based on an examination of the earliest patients. This is according to a study done by Chinese researchers and doctors in Wuhan, published by Lancet. Vox.
  8. The coronavirus may have originated in bats, but there is no evidence to suggest that the virus was passed along by people eating wild animals. Rather, it is more likely that poor conditions in the country’s animal food-processing system are the culprit. Foreign Policy. 
  9. To keep in mind how hard it is to control an outbreak, read the Wikipedia report about the 2009-2010 H1N1 outbreak, which originated in North America and killed as many as 500,000 people worldwide, few of whom were in China.
  10. Differences between the US and Chinese methodology of counting flu-related deaths explains their contrasting numbers. When examined more carefully, it shows that China has a bigger challenge preventing the spread of flu. Global Times.

Daily wrap: 2/10/2020

Health-related news

  1. As of 4 pm, Guangdong had reported 1034 confirmed cases related to the virus, adding 64 new infections today. Most came in the two megacities: Shenzhen has 339 (+23), Guangzhou 285 (+15), Zhuhai 76 (+1), Foshan 59 (+2), Dongguan 53 (+6), Zhongshan 46 (+2), Huizhou 39 (+4), Zhaoqing 14 (+0), and Jiangmen 14 (+5), according to the Guangdong Health Commission. 
  2. The province reported its first death, a 55-year-old man in Zhaoqing with pre-existing diabetes, who had contact with people visiting Wuhan. So far, 74 cases in the province have been discharged, while another 3,522 people with close contacts to the patients are under medical observation.
  3. Guangdong’s new infections have been steadily dropping this week, from 92 on Monday, to 88 on Tuesday, 82 on Wednesday, 75 yesterday, and 64 today.
  4. As Hong Kong is set to exercise mandatory two-week quarantine measures on arrivals from mainland China from midnight, the city has identified a new case today, taking the total infections to 25. SCMP. Macau has no new cases.
  5. Guangzhou started imposing a lockdown on all residential areas in the city from today, with closures of public facilities in neighbourhoods and restrictions on the entrance of non-residents, including delivery workers. Nanfang Daily.
  6. The National Supervisory Commission is sending a team to investigate the case of Li Wenliang, the 34-year-old doctor who died today and is fast becoming a national hero for having blown the whistle on the virus but who was reprimanded by local police. SCMP. Angry posts about Li on Weibo have overwhelmed the internet, with some questioning Wuhan authorities’ incompetency in handling the outbreak as well freedom of expression in China at large. Caixin. An editorial in Caixin has called for “institutionalized” protection of whistle-blowers.
  7. A number of Western commentators have called this the biggest test of President Xi Jinping’s leadership since coming to power in 2012. Bill Bishop writes: “Last Friday I wrote that this is as close to an existential crisis for Xi and the Party that I think we have seen since 1989, and I think it is even more so a week later.” Sinocism.
  8. How dangerous is this virus? It still isn’t clear, as Case Fatality Rates can fluctuate based on a number of factors. Wuhan’s is nearly 5%, and it pays to remember that Sars only reached 10% long after it began as reports and analysis became more accurate. Caixin.
  9. China is facing a dilemma as it tries to get back to business after the extended Lunar New Year holiday amid fears that a mass movement of workers across the country will worsen the spread of the virus. SCMP.
  10. Shelves are being cleared in Hong Kong’s supermarkets, even though Beijing’s top diplomat in Hong Kong has sought to reassure the city that the central government is guaranteeing the flow of essential supplies. SCMP.
  11. Research teams from Hong Kong’s University of Science and Technology and the University of Macau have invented portable detection devices that can give a quick diagnosis in coronavirus cases. SCMP.
  12. Macau residents who have visited the mainland within the previous 14 days will need to undergo quarantine if they decide to visit Hong Kong. News.gov.mo 
  13. Planes coming from and going to the mainland will depart and arrive at remote parking stands at Hong Kong’s airport, where passengers will be processed separately. SCMP.

Economic-impact news

  1. It is not clear how much of the country’s 288 million migrant workers remain stuck at home. But a labor shortage issue seems to be haunting the big cities, including Guangzhou and Shenzhen, where demand for workers has been climbing in recent years. Global Times.
  2. While the mainland’s benchmarks rebounded for a fourth consecutive day following the sell-off earlier in the week, Hong Kong’s index ended up lower on profit-taking pressure. SCMP.
  3. Some analysts are predicting China’s GDP in Q1 will drop to as low as 4% due to the complete seizure of property markets, which account for as much as one-fourth of GDP. FT.
  4. China National Offshore Oil Corp. has declared force majeure and won’t take delivery of some LNG cargoes, because the virus is constraining its ability to import the fuel. It’s among the first known cases of the legal clause being invoked in commodity contracts as a result of the epidemic. Bloomberg.
  5. Guangdong has disbursed 13.6 billion yuan of pension funds to 4.88 million retirees and 393 million yuan of insurance benefits to 189,100 unemployed, ahead of schedule, to relieve financial burdens caused by the outbreak. Nanfang Daily.
  6. Guangzhou has unveiled 15 measures designed to support around 1 million SMEs affected by the outbreak, including 5 billion yuan of fees cut, over 10% of interest rate cuts, 57 billion yuan of loans to be issued this year as well as lowered social security payments for staff. Xinhua.
  7. A number of Hong Kong banks including HSBC and Standard Chartered have introduced measures to relieve the pressure on SMEs and individuals. SCMP.
  8. Wynn Macau became the first of Macau’s gaming concessionaires to report earnings since the outbreak, saying on a conference call with investors that closure of the casinos was costing it between US$2.4m and US$2.6m a day, most of it towards maintaining more than 12,000 staff. SCMP.

Backgrounders

  1. The coronavirus could have been passed on from bats to humans through pangolins, researchers from the South China Agricultural University found, with the genome sequence of the novel coronavirus strain separated from the highly trafficked mammal being 99% identical to that from infected patients. Xinhua.
  2. What is the difference between a Case Fatality Rate and a Mortality Rate? Here is a good explainer. Caixin.
  3. The WHO says there is no need for travel bans to combat the coronavirus. SCMP.
  4. The coronavirus didn’t necessarily come from the Wuhan seafood market, but it may also be deadlier than is currently evident, based on an examination of the earliest patients. This is according to a study done by Chinese researchers and doctors in Wuhan, published by Lancet. Vox.
  5. The coronavirus may have originated in bats, but there is no evidence to suggest that the virus was passed along by people eating wild animals. Rather, it is more likely that poor conditions in the country’s animal food-processing system are the culprit. Foreign Policy. 
  6. What is the virus, how is it different from others, and what can be expected from a medical point of view? NYT. 
  7. Here is a great collection of maps and other infographics on SCMP – especially the comparison of Sars, Mers, Ebola, H1N1. 
  8. To keep in mind how hard it is to control an outbreak, read the Wikipedia report about the 2009-2010 H1N1 outbreak, which originated in North America and killed as many as 500,000 people worldwide, few of whom were in China.
  9. Differences between the US and Chinese methodology of counting flu-related deaths explains their contrasting numbers. When examined more carefully, it shows that China has a bigger challenge preventing the spread of flu. Global Times.

Daily wrap: 2/6/2020

Health-related news

  1. As of 4 pm, Guangdong had reported 970 confirmed cases related to the virus, adding 75 new infections today. Most came in the two megacities: Shenzhen has 316 (+25), Guangzhou 270 (+21), Zhuhai 73 (+1), Foshan 57 (+7), Dongguan 47 (+3), Zhongshan 44 (+8), Huizhou 35 (+1), Zhaoqing 14 (+1), and Jiangmen nine (+2), according to the Guangdong Health Commission. So far, 52 cases in the province had been discharged, while another 3,530 people with close contacts to the patients are under medical observation.
  2. At the outbreak’s epicenter, the daily death toll went up today from yesterday’s, while newly confirmed cases went down. Horrible though the death toll may sound, it is apparently expected, while the falling infection number is being taken as a sign of improvement. SCMP.
  3. However, Hong Kong’s esteemed microbiologist, Yuen Kwok-yung, has declared a community outbreak, saying there have been enough confirmed cases of people in the city who had not been to the mainland. The story is developing. SCMP. 
  4. Hong Kong has reported two new positive tests and one more confirmed case, all in separate public hospitals. This brings the city’s total to 24. SCMP.
  5. Thousands more people than previously thought might have been exposed to the coronavirus, after a cruise line admitted one of its ships had sailed four times since carrying eight mainland Chinese passengers infected with the disease. SCMP.
  6. Taiwan will impose restrictions on Hong Kong and Macau citizens who plan to visit the island. SCMP.
  7. The head of the Hong Kong government’s representative office in Wuhan has admitted that bringing back the more than 2,000 locals stuck in Hubei province is a “huge headache” amid the lockdown. SCMP.
  8. A reporter from Caixin takes a close look at what it’s like for medical staff on the frontlines in Wuhan. Caixin. 
  9. Guangdong Department of Justice has released Wednesday a list of virus-related regulations, mandating infected people or suspected ones to report to medical institutions and receive medical observation and treatment. Nanfang Daily.
  10. Shenzhen’s housing department halted all the outdoor activities in the real estate sector on Thursday, including the opening of property projects, house-seeing trips and on-site pricing of properties. Sznews.com.
  11. A court in Huizhou conducted a trial on a case of contract dispute via the social networking platform WeChat. Nanfang Daily.

Economic-impact news

  1. The Guangzhou branch of People’s Bank of China, along with several commercial banks in Guangdong, have issued loans of 333 million yuan to 297 companies taking part in virus prevention activities in the province. Nanfang Daily.
  2. Guangdong has issued a series of measures aimed at providing support to local companies amid the coronavirus outbreak, including reduction of social security payments, subsidies to infected staff under medical observation, and tax cuts for SMEs. Nanfang Daily.
  3. S&P Global Ratings says that the spread of the coronavirus could have a far greater impact on China’s economy and its banking system than Sars did in 2003. CBN.
  4. On the contrary, another Chinese expert, Ding Yifan, has come out to say the outbreak will have limited impact on the economy and any such fears are being stirred up by the United States. Guancha.
  5. China and Hong Kong stocks rallied, with a mainland gauge tracking smaller companies recouping all the loss triggered by the coronavirus, as optimism increased that containment measures are working. SCMP.
  6. Who’s worried about the virus hurting home prices? Not Stanley Ho’s son, Mario, who splashed out HK$500m on a Hong Kong beachside house in January. SCMP.
  7. Macau’s smaller casino junket firms might need to layoff staff if the virus outbreak is not resolved quickly, says Kwok Chi Chung, president of the Macau Association of Gaming and Entertainment Promoters. GGRAsia.
  8. Junket king Alvin Chau of Suncity has posted a video to his staff saying there is no way he will ask them to take unpaid leave, and they will all “join hands” to fight the virus outbreak. FB.

Backgrounders

  1. The WHO says there is no need for travel bans to combat the coronavirus. SCMP.
  2. The coronavirus didn’t necessarily come from the Wuhan seafood market, but it may also be deadlier than is currently evident, based on an examination of the earliest patients. This is according to a study done by Chinese researchers and doctors in Wuhan, published by Lancet. Vox.
  3. The coronavirus may have originated in bats, but there is no evidence to suggest that the virus was passed along by people eating wild animals. Rather, it is more likely that poor conditions in the country’s animal food-processing system are the culprit. Foreign Policy. 
  4. What is the virus, how is it different from others, and what can be expected from a medical point of view? NYT. 
  5. Here is a great collection of maps and other infographics on SCMP – especially the comparison of Sars, Mers, Ebola, H1N1. 
  6. To keep in mind how hard it is to control an outbreak, read the Wikipedia report about the 2009-2010 H1N1 outbreak, which originated in North America and killed as many as 500,000 people worldwide, few of whom were in China.
  7. Differences between the US and Chinese methodology of counting flu-related deaths explains their contrasting numbers. When examined more carefully, it shows that China has a bigger challenge preventing the spread of flu. Global Times.

Daily wrap: 2/5/2020

Health-related news

  1. As of 5 pm, Guangdong had reported 895 confirmed cases related to the virus, adding 82 new infections today. Most came in the two megacities: Shenzhen has 291 (+20), Guangzhou 249 (+25), Zhuhai 72 (+8), Foshan 50 (+1), Dongguan 44 (+7), Zhongshan 36 (+5), Huizhou 34 (+5), Zhaoqing 13(+3), and Jiangmen seven (+1), according to the Guangdong Health Commission. So far, 37 cases in the province had been discharged, while another 3,247 people with close contacts to the patients are under medical observation.
  2. Hong Kong has reported three new cases today, taking its total to 21. SCMP.
  3. Macau has reported no new cases in the past 24 hours, its total still at 10, but it has 31 awaiting results of testing. News.gov.mo
  4. Xinhua has reported encouraging signs in the fight against the coronavirus, yet gives a breakdown of deaths so far showing 25% had no pre-existing conditions. Xinhua.
  5. Hong Kong researchers have already developed a vaccine for the virus but need time to test it, says infectious diseases expert Yuen Kwok-yung. SCMP.
  6. The Hospital Authority Employees Alliance have threatened to call on other industries to join their strike, after CE Carrie Lam again snubbed its demand to meet over talks to completely close the mainland border. SCMP.
  7. All travellers from the mainland entering Hong Kong, including returning residents, will be required to be on quarantine for 14 days, sources told SCMP.
  8. Shenzhen has enough capacity at its People’s No. 3 Hospital to handle the outbreak, but it is speeding up construction of a third phase, anyway. Yicai.
  9. Macau’s government has said it needs to keep the borders open so that supplies can come in and essential workers can travel back and forth, but there are strict procedures in place for screening visitors. It has also called on the public not to react to rumors about food shortages. News.gov.mo
  10. Only around 1,000 tourists had entered Macau by noon today (down from around 600,000 at the daily peak recorded over previous holiday periods). News.gov.mo.

Economic-impact news

  1. The Canton Fair complex in Guangzhou has suspended all exhibitions until further notice, which might result in the April session of the country’s oldest and biggest trade show being cancelled. Thats Mags
  2. The World Bank will revise its global growth forecast downward due to the new coronavirus, amid fears it will harm global supply chains. SCMP.
  3. Moody’s, the ratings service, has said the economic impact of the virus is likely to be more severe than Sars was in 2002-2003, and it may need to revise downward its 5.8% forecast for China’s GDP growth this year. Moody’s.
  4. Expansion in the services sector softened for the second consecutive month in January as growth in new business and employment slowed, a Caixin-sponsored survey has shown, adding to evidence that the economy was cooling even before the outbreak. Caixin.
  5. Small and medium-sized businesses face a tough challenge, even with the support of local governments that have cut taxes and rents, according to companies interviewed by Caixin.
  6. China’s residential property market has come to a standstill as sales offices are ordered closed. Some agents are bracing for a slump in sales of as much as 80% this month. SCMP.
  7. The outlook has worsened for defaults in the world’s second-biggest bond market, likely tipping a raft of distressed borrowers over the edge this year. Bloomberg.
  8. The National Development and Reform Commission believes the opposite, saying that the economy is much stronger now and better able to handle the impact of the virus. Securities News.
  9. Former commerce vice-minister Wei Jianguo believes the country will still achieve its 6% full-year growth target. Global Times.
  10. Macau’s government has announced it is looking at a series of measures, including tax breaks, that will support local enterprises, especially SMEs, to get through the current crisis. News.gov.mo
  11. As Macau’s integrated resorts began winding down non-gaming operations today, some operators put out notices explaining whether hotels, shops and restaurants would stay open. There are almost no customers left to cater to. Macau Inc. 
  12. Most analysts predict full-year revenues at the casinos to see negative growth, due to the 15-day closure, although opinions are mixed on how strong any rebound might be once the outbreak is contained. IAG.  
  13. Cathay Pacific is asking all of its 27,000 employees to take three weeks of unpaid leave over the coming months. SCMP.

Backgrounders

  1. The WHO says there is no need for travel bans to combat the coronavirus. SCMP.
  2. The coronavirus didn’t necessarily come from the Wuhan seafood market, but it may also be deadlier than is currently evident, based on an examination of the earliest patients. This is according to a study done by Chinese researchers and doctors in Wuhan, published by Lancet. Vox.
  3. The coronavirus may have originated in bats, but there is no evidence to suggest that the virus was passed along by people eating wild animals. Rather, it is more likely that poor conditions in the country’s animal food-processing system are the culprit. Foreign Policy. 
  4. What is the virus, how is it different from others, and what can be expected from a medical point of view? NYT. 
  5. Here is a great collection of maps and other infographics on SCMP – especially the comparison of Sars, Mers, Ebola, H1N1. 
  6. To keep in mind how hard it is to control an outbreak, read the Wikipedia report about the 2009-2010 H1N1 outbreak, which originated in North America and killed as many as 500,000 people worldwide, few of whom were in China.
  7. Differences between the US and Chinese methodology of counting flu-related deaths explains their contrasting numbers. When examined more carefully, it shows that China has a bigger challenge preventing the spread of flu. Global Times.

 

Daily wrap: 2/4/2020

Health-related news

  1. As of 5 pm, Guangdong had reported 813 confirmed cases related to the virus, adding 88 new infections today. Most came in the two megacities: Shenzhen has 271 (+26), Guangzhou 224 (+24), Zhuhai 64 (+9), Foshan 49 (+4), Dongguan 37 (+6), Zhongshan 31 (+6), Huizhou 29 (+1), Zhaoqing 10, and Jiangmen six (+2), according to the Guangdong Health Commission. 
  2. Hong Kong has reported 17 infections, with two new cases added and its first death – a 39-year-old male patient with pre-existing heart conditions – confirmed today. He had travelled to Wuhan on Jan. 21. Macau announced two new cases today, taking the total infections to 10. SCMP.
  3. Macau has decided to close its casinos for at least two weeks and then reassess the situation, CE Ho Iat Seng announced. He also said border closures were being considered but were complicated. Casino stocks plunged on the news. SCMP.
  4. Reports of food hoarding have surged on social media in Macau, prompting the government to reassure residents that the food supply was plentiful. News.Gov.mo.  
  5. Hong Kong healthcare officials are urging medical staff to return to work after thousands went on strike, saying cancer patients and newborns are at risk. SCMP.
  6. Hong Kong CE Carrie Lam has ordered most civil servants not to wear masks, to ensure frontline healthcare workers have enough supply. SCMP.
  7. A scientist from the Wuhan Institute of Virology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences has debunked a recent conspiracy theory that claimed the coronavirus was manufactured and escaped from the institute’s most advanced biocontainment facility. China Daily.
  8. Chinese scientists say they have detected “striking” mutations in a new coronavirus that may have occurred during transmission between family members. While the effects of the mutations on the virus are not known, they do have the potential to alter the way the virus behaves. SCMP.
  9. Huanggang, the second most populated city in the virus-hit province of Hubei, has punished 337 party officials for their “incorrect handling” of the outbreak. Caixin.
  10. Scientists in Guangzhou have detected the nucleic acid of the coronavirus on a doorknob at the house of a person diagnosed with the epidemic, the first time in the city it has been identified outside of a human body. But it remains to be seen whether it is transmissible. Xinhua.
  11. Shenzhen’s government is working with tech companies, including Tencent, to offer psychological counselling services regarding the outbreak, via a 24-hour hotline and an online counselling platform. sznews.com.
  12. Guangdong has extended the opening date to Feb 17 for middle and primary schools as well as kindergartens, and to Feb 24 for higher education institutes, with online courses provided in the meantime. Nanfang Daily.

Economic-impact news

  1. Although Guangdong has asked companies across the province to delay resumption of work until after Feb 9, those providing daily necessities and medical supplies are being kept open with help of volunteers. Nanfang Daily.
  2. Shenzhen will waive rents in February and March at national-level technology parks and industrial clusters. sznews.com.
  3. The central government has set the precedent of issuing a force majeure document to an exporter in Zhejiang for failing to deliver on a contract due to the virus. SCMP. 
  4. Hong Kong’s stock exchange is considering how to overcome potential delays in earnings reports by listed companies by March 31, as auditors face travel restrictions in the mainland due to the virus. SCMP.
  5. The virus will likely slow homebuilding in Hong Kong. SCMP.
  6. China may see smartphone shipments fall 30% in Q1 due to the coronavirus. (Smartphones are a key driver of Dongguan’s economy.) Caixin.
  7. Four in 10 of Hong Kong’s hotel staff may lose their jobs in the coming months, as travel restrictions could become the final nail for an industry that is already struggling from shrinking tourism after nearly eight months of anti-government protests. SCMP.
  8. Forecasts for Hong Kong’s office and retail property markets are bleak, but the city may remain the world’s most expensive for some time. SCMP.
  9. Cathay Pacific has decided to cut up to 90% of its flights to the mainland, and 30% overall. SCMP.

Backgrounders

  1. The WHO says there is no need for travel bans to combat the coronavirus. SCMP.
  2. The coronavirus didn’t necessarily come from the Wuhan seafood market, but it may also be deadlier than is currently evident, based on an examination of the earliest patients. This is according to a study done by Chinese researchers and doctors in Wuhan, published by Lancet. Vox.
  3. The coronavirus may have originated in bats, but there is no evidence to suggest that the virus was passed along by people eating wild animals. Rather, it is more likely that poor conditions in the country’s animal food-processing system are the culprit. Foreign Policy. 
  4. What is the virus, how is it different from others, and what can be expected from a medical point of view? NYT. 
  5. Here is a great collection of maps and other infographics on SCMP – especially the comparison of Sars, Mers, Ebola, H1N1. 
  6. To keep in mind how hard it is to control an outbreak, read the Wikipedia report about the 2009-2010 H1N1 outbreak, which originated in North America and killed as many as 500,000 people worldwide, few of whom were in China.
  7. Differences between the US and Chinese methodology of counting flu-related deaths explains their contrasting numbers. When examined more carefully, it shows that China has a bigger challenge preventing the spread of flu. Global Times.

 

Daily Wrap: 2/3/2020

Health-related news

  1. As of 4:30 pm, Guangdong had reported 725 confirmed cases related to the virus, adding 42 new infections today. For the GBA cities in the province, there are 245 in Shenzhen, 200 in Guangzhou, 55 in Zhuhai, 45 in Foshan, 31 in Dongguan, 28 in Huizhou, 25 in Zhongshan, 10 in Zhaoqing and four in Jiangmen, according to the Guangdong Health Commission. Hong Kong and Macau have found 15 and eight confirmed cases, respectively, according to the two cities’ health authorities. So far, no death has been reported in the GBA.
  2. Hong Kong’s Chief Executive appears to have been unable to avert a strike among the city’s hospital staff, with non-emergency services suspended today as thousands of staff stopped work. However, Carrie Lam did announce the closure of all border crossings with the mainland except for the two bridges – Shenzhen Bay and the HZMB. Read more on SCMP.   
  3. Shenzhen is on the highest possible alert as the annual return migration of workers from inland provinces gets under way today. The city has already set aside 250m yuan to fight the outbreak, and every access point to the city has quarantine stations. It has also spruced up its 1,600-bed, national-level No. 3 Hospital in preparation for handling more cases, while its brightest medical-research minds are working on an antidote and vaccine. Read more (in Chinese) on Shenzhen Daily.
  4. Shenzhen’s urban villages, and other centers where migrant workers rent housing, are being closely monitored by neighbourhood committees. Read more (in Chinese) on Nanfang Daily.
  5. Explosives have been found at the train station on Hong Kong’s border with the mainland, in what police call ‘one big step closer to terrorism’. It was apparently the work of a protester decrying the Hong Kong government’s lack of protection against mainland visitors who might be carrying the virus. Read more on SCMP. 
  6. Macau’s calm, organised handling of the virus crisis puts Hong Kong’s panic in perspective. Read more on SCMP.
  7. Macau’s secretary responsible for health has urged the public not to respond to rumors, after a rumor circulated that the city’s latest reported case had died. In fact, it is a mild infection, same as the seven others. Read more.
  8. Like Hong Kong, Shenzhen has decided to provide free medical services to anyone suspected of infection, no matter where they come from. Read more on Shenzhen Daily. However, Shenzhen has also warned of the severe consequences of lying on health declarations. 
  9. Doctors in Dongguan have been conducting consultations online, so that people who suspect they have the virus don’t need to come to the hospital. Read more on Dongguan Times.
  10. Guangzhou’s Baiyun Airport, one of the region’s key transport hubs, is running online health declaration forms via WeChat that save time at the airport and allow authorities to track movements better if patients later end up being infected. Read more on Dayoo.

Economic-impact news

  1. The virus outbreak could be a severe challenge to many of China’s SMEs, as it comes at a time of the year when exporters are preparing to secure orders from buyers. SCMP’s Shenzhen correspondent reports.
  2. Hong Kong’s economy, reeling from the impact of the protests, faces a second blow from the virus. Read more on SCMP, as well as about the outlook for Hong Kong’s property market.
  3. Southeast Asian companies have been flocking to Hong Kong to access the GBA. But could this be halted by the virus? It depends on how long it lasts. As one analyst quoted says: “The virus outbreak is likely to put the red-hot IPO rally on pause for a while. Some companies may postpone or scale down their offerings if they cannot get the valuation they want.” Read more on SCMP.
  4. One prominent Macau economist has stated the obvious in saying that the impact on the Macau economy could go on “for months”. Other analysts seem to be agreed that February will be terrible, with revenues likely to plunge 60% YoY. But many believe the second half of the year should see a strong rebound. 
  5. Macau’s public areas are deserted. See the photos.
  6. Shenzhen’s major property developers have heard from retail associations that rental relief is necessary, and they have agreed to temporary cuts. Read more (in Chinese). 
  7. Shenzhen’s Metro has agreed to lower rents for its tenants. Read more (in Chinese). 
  8. Macau’s government has announced a rent-free period for tenants in government-owned properties. Read more (in Chinese).

One thought on “Coronavirus update”

Tell us what you think