Case numbers in decline . . .
According to the China National Health Commission, between March 5 and March 8 there were no new confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Hubei Province, outside of the city of Wuhan, the epicentre of the outbreak. Even in Wuhan, there has been a significant drop in the number of new cases, with fewer than 50 each day on both Saturday and Sunday. Nationally, the number of confirmed cases dropped to double-digits for the first time since January 21. The decline comes as welcome news, but the area’s residents are likely to remain on high alert.
Factories in Hubei re-opening . . .
With the decline in new cases, factories in Hubei are expected to resume production beginning tomorrow. This will impact China’s auto industry; Wuhan produces 10 per cent of the vehicles made in China and is home to hundreds of auto parts suppliers. Wuhan is also the headquarters of Dongfeng Motor Corp., China’s second-largest automaker. Although factories are expected to open, there are still concerns around logistics and further disease transmission. Some restrictions on movement remain in place, and it is unclear whether workers, many of whom are migrants from elsewhere in China, will be able to reach the factories. There are also logistical issues around the delivery of raw materials needed to resume production, and the supply of protective gear for workers to prevent further spread of the virus.
Drastic drops in exports . . .
China’s exports fell 17 per cent in January and February compared to the same months in 2019, primarily because the coronavirus outbreak forced company shutdowns. Domestic automakers, which exported an estimated C$72 billion worth of auto components in 2019, will likely take a major hit in 2020. Given these conditions, the central government wants to resume production as soon as possible. While opening up factories, Beijing will need to formulate policies to address the challenges of operating while the virus remains an ongoing threat.
- MSNBC: China still faces hurdles in making sure its factories can send goods to warehouses
- National Health Commission: 2020年3月9日新闻发布会文字实录
- Reuters: As one of China's 'Detroits' reopens, world's automakers worry about disruptions