The Chinese authorities on Monday reported a drop in new coronavirus infections in Wuhan for a fourth day as drastic curbs on international travellers reined in the number of imported cases. Meanwhile, policymakers turned their efforts to healing the world’s second-largest economy.
The city of Wuhan, at the epicentre of the outbreak, reported no new cases for a sixth day, as businesses reopened and residents set about reclaiming a more normal life after lockdown for almost two months. “The Wuhan International Plaza is very representative of the city. So its reopening really makes me feel this city is coming back to life,’’ said Zhang Yu, 29.
The National Health Commission said Sunday’s figure of 31 new cases, including one locally transmitted infection, was down from 45 the previous day. As infections fall, policymakers are scrambling to revitalise an economy nearly paralysed by months-long curbs to control the spread of the flu-like disease. The central bank unexpectedly cut the interest rate on reverse repurchase agreements by 20 basis points, the largest in almost five years.
The government is pushing businesses and factories to reopen, as it rolls out fiscal and monetary stimulus to spur recovery from what is feared to be an outright economic contraction in the quarter to March. “China’s exports and imports could worsen as the pandemic spreads, depressing demand both at home and abroad,’’ Xin Guobin, the Vice Minister of Industry and Information Technology, said. Xin said that the country has extended loans of 200 billion yuan ($28 billion) to 5,000 businesses, from 300 billion allocated to help companies as they resume work.