COVID-19: Economy still far from healthy

Today’s global infection count is 80,413 confirmed cases with 2,708 deaths. According to official numbers, the COVID-19 epidemic appears to be largely contained in China outside of its epicenter, Hubei Province. The Wall Street Journal notes:

The number of new cases outside of Hubei dropped to just nine on Monday, Chinese authorities said, a marked decrease from the peak of nearly 900 new cases that were recorded February 3.

However, “we don’t know whether the case numbers tell us about the real trend in incidents or are just a result of testing practices,” Benjamin Cowling, head of epidemiology at Hong Kong University, told the Financial Times (paywall). Bruce Aylward, head of the World Health Organization’s foreign experts’ mission to China, reportedly “acknowledged questions had been raised over the statistics,” but insisted that “the decline that we see is real.”

Aylward also gave credit to the Chinese government, praising its “all-government, all-society approach” as “probably the most ambitious and agile” in history, per the SCMP.

Whether or not people are healthy outside Hubei, the economy is not — at least not yet.

  • “Only 30% of small businesses” have been able to reopen, said…a senior official from the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, the SCMP reports. “The smaller the size of the company, the lower the rate of work resumption,” Shu added.
  • “Some 10 million people were waiting to return” to the economic powerhouse province of Guangdong, according to an analysis of mobile phone data, including 1.7 million trapped in Hubei, according to Caixin.
  • “Guangdong lowered its public health emergency response to the Covid-19 epidemic on Monday,” says the SCMP, but as long as workers and supply chains are displaced and disrupted, the recovery will be slow.

More COVID-19 coverage:

—Lucas Niewenhuis