Resurgence in northern China . . .
On Monday, China reported its sixth consecutive day of more than 100 new coronavirus cases – a rate of spread rarely seen in the country since July. Double-digit numbers of new cases and community transmissions were seen in Hebei Province neighbouring Beijing and the three northeastern provinces of Liaoning, Jilin, and Heilongjiang. Although well below the severity of the pandemic’s initial outbreak last winter, this new wave brings additional concerns as the country’s Lunar New Year will be celebrated in less than one month. Under normal circumstances, about 400 million Chinese would be travelling the country by air and rail.
New hospital construction, travel bans . . .
A new 1,500-room hospital built on a factory site over just five days was completed over the weekend in Nangong city, one of Hebei Province’s high-risk areas. The city plans to build five more hospitals of the same size in the coming week to further boost its capacity to treat patients and contain the virus's spread. In addition to lockdowns and massive testing, Chinese authorities have advised people to refrain from non-essential travel and avoid gatherings by remaining in the city where they live or work during the upcoming holiday. Travellers arriving from abroad now have to undergo a “14+7” quarantine, with a 14-day quarantine at an appointed hotel, followed by and seven additional days of at-home “medical monitoring.”
Investigation continues, economic impact evaluated . . .
Amid this latest surge in COVID-19 infections, a team of investigators from the World Health Organization arrived in China after months of delays to conduct an investigation into the origins of the pandemic. Meanwhile, a newly-released report by an independent panel of the WHO pointed to the organization’s, China’s, and other national governments’ “fail(ure) in our collective capacity” to act more quickly and decisively during the pandemic’s initial outbreak. Recent discussion is also centred around the Chinese economy being the only major economy that registered economic expansion for 2020 and whether its recovery is sustainable and healthy given a concurrently soaring debt-to-GDP level.