World Newsletter

2 February 2020


Approved by President Xi Jinping, China's military will dispatch 1,400 medical workers to the newly-built Huoshenshan hospital specialized in treating novel coronavirus patients in Wuhan.



Overseas Chinese communities in Britain have been donating money and medical supplies to help with the fight against the outbreak of novel coronavirus in China.

"As long as China is in trouble, they are always willing to share with the motherland," said Liu Xiaoming, China's ambassador to the United Kingdom, at a donation ceremony held at the Chinese embassy in London on Friday.

More than 20 representatives of local Chinese communities including the London Chinatown Chinese Association and the Chinese Students and Scholars Association in the UK attended the ceremony and made a donation of nearly 500,000 pounds (about $ 660,000).

Liu Xiaoming expressed his sincere gratitude to overseas Chinese communities, including scholars and students in the UK for their generosity and dedication to supporting the people of the motherland to fight the epidemic.

Since the outbreak, Chinese people in Britain have followed the progress of the epidemic's prevention and control. After learning about the shortage of medical supplies in Wuhan, where the outbreak is most severe, they raised funds and bought critical supplies, and mailed them to China.

Customs authorities across China have speeded up clearance processes for medical supplies from abroad. From Jan 24 up to Jan 29, more than 10,000 parcels of safety materials were cleared, according to the customs office in Guangzhou, one of the largest customs authorities in southern China.

"Support from all directions went to whichever place was in trouble," Liu said. With the Chinese government's solid resolve and timely and effective measures, China will control and finally prevail over the epidemic, Liu noted.

Wuhan, where the outbreak originated, is a city in central China with a population of about 11 million. It has been on lockdown since Jan 23. Other major cities in China have banned public gatherings and reduced transportation to varying degrees.

"In many ways, China is actually setting a new standard for outbreak response. It's not an exaggeration," Director-General of the United Nations' World Health Organization Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Thursday.



China stands ready to strengthen information, policy and technical exchanges and cooperation with the international community, including the European Union, to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus, Premier Li Keqiang said.

Li made the remarks in a recent telephone conversation with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, according to a press release published on Saturday.

The country is making an all-out effort to prevent and control the outbreak in an open, transparent and orderly manner and with rigorous measures, Li said, adding the Chinese government and people have the confidence, resolve and capability to prevent and control the contagion.

Saying the pressing task at the current stage is to contain the spread of the epidemic, treat infected patients and ensure the Chinese people and foreigners in China live normal lives, Li stressed the nation is endeavoring to guarantee medical supplies needed by medics working on the frontline.

He expressed hope the EU could provide necessary assistance to China in the urgent purchase of medical supplies from EU member countries.

Von der Leyen said the EU highly respects and recognizes the measures China has taken to contain the outbreak and admires its quick action in dealing with the epidemic.

The EU is willing to do its utmost to mobilize available resources to provide assistance to China as best it can and will coordinate its members to facilitate the purchase of medical supplies, she added.



Foreign materials donated by overseas donors for prevention and control of the pneumonia outbreak caused by novel coronavirus will be exempted from import tax until late March, the General Administration of Customs announced on Saturday.

To further support the prevention and control of the epidemic, a favorable import tax policy will be implemented from Jan 1 to March 31, the GAC said in a statement.

The government has removed customs duties, and VAT and sales taxes for charitable donations in goods and equipment, such as reagents, disinfection items, protective materials, ambulances, anti-epidemic vehicles and sterilizing vehicles.

Domestic government branches, companies, social organizations, Chinese residents and foreign citizens who live in China are entitled to gain the tax exemption for epidemic prevention and control goods imported from overseas and areas under special customs supervision, according to the GAC.

Foreign donations without clear recipients will be received by the Red Cross Society of China, All-China Women's Federation, China Disabled Persons' Federation, China Charity Federation, China Primary Health Care Foundation, China Soong Ching Ling Foundation and Cancer Foundation of China.



The National Health Commission said on Saturday the bodies of dead novel coronavirus patients should be cremated nearby and should not be transported to other places.

Bodies of deceased patients should not be buried in the ground or stored in other ways, according to a notice published on its website.

It is also stated that no ceremonies to pay respect to the deceased or funerals should be held.

The bodies of those with suspected infections, including those who were under medical observation, also should be treated the same way, the notice said.



The Hubei government has announced it will extend the weeklong Spring Festival holiday to Feb 13 for all local residents, including people who came to Hubei for the holiday. Work will resume on Feb 14, according to a government announcement released on Saturday night.

The start of the new semester will be delayed and the exact time for the resumption of school will be announced later by education authorities, it said.



A total of 328 patients infected with the novel coronavirus had been discharged from hospital after recovery by the end of Saturday, Chinese health authorities announced Sunday.

Saturday saw 85 people walk out of the hospital after recovery (49 in Hubei), the National Health Commission (NHC) said in its daily report.

By the end of Saturday, a total of 304 people had died of the disease and 14,380 confirmed cases of novel coronavirus infection had been reported in 31 provincial-level regions and the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps in China.



Wenzhou in East China's Zhejiang province has adopted a slew of rigorous measures in its fight against the novel coronavirus by controlling residents' outdoor movements.

According to a statement issued by the local government, from Sunday through Feb 9, each household can designate only one family member to venture outdoors to buy daily living supplies every two days, with the rest of the population encouraged to stay indoors to avoid spreading the virus.

Zhejiang reported 62 new cases as of midnight on Feb 1, among which 24 are in Wenzhou.

The province has so far reported 661 confirmed cases, with 23 cured and discharged from hospitals.



Amid the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, on Saturday authorities in Huanggang, Hubei province imposed an indefinite limit on the mobility of residents in its urban areas, allowing only one designated member per family to leave home once every two days to buy daily necessities.

Exceptions were made for people working at supermarkets and pharmacies, as well as sick people who need to visit doctors, according to an announcement by the local epidemic prevention office. The policy took effect on Saturday.

The announcement called on local officials, legislators and political advisors to set an example and persuade family members and neighbors to minimize outings and congregations, to reduce possible infection.

Those who breach the restrictions and pick quarrels with law enforcement officers will face punishment, it added.

Huanggang, with a population of 7.5 million, borders Wuhan on the west. It reported 726 confirmed coronavirus infections and 14 deaths as of Friday, making it the second most severely-hit city after Wuhan.

The measure is part of the city's broader efforts to reduce people's movement during the novel coronavirus outbreak, which first emerged in Hubei's provincial capital of Wuhan and has since spread across the country.

Notice came after the Hubei provincial government locked down Wuhan and many other cities in the province starting Jan 23, cutting travel in and out.



Confirmed and suspected infections of the novel coronavirus continued to climb on Saturday, with most of the increases recorded in Central China's Hubei province, the center of the virus outbreak, according to the National Health Commission.

On the Chinese mainland, the number of confirmed cases climbed to 14,380 as of Saturday at midnight, including 304 deaths, data released by the commission on Sunday morning showed.

Hubei province reported 1,921 new cases and 45 new deaths, it said.

There were also 4,562 new suspected cases reported on Saturday, including 2,606 in Hubei, increasing the total suspected infections on the Chinese mainland to 19,544.

While a total of 2,110 patients remain in serious condition, 328 people have been released from hospitals after being cured, the commission said.

A total of 137,594 people that have had close contact with infected patients are still under medical observation, while 8,044 such people were released from observation on Saturday.

According to the Hubei health commission, the total number of confirmed cases and deaths in the province has reached 9,074 and 294, respectively.

The provincial commission also said a total of 8,565 people sickened by the virus in the province are still hospitalized. Among them, 1,118 people have serious symptoms and 444 are in critical condition.

Among the 48,571 people that have had close contact with infected patients, 43,121 are still under medical observation in the province, it added.



China's information technology companies are promoting telecommuting and online education in the face of the novel coronavirus outbreak to ensure the normal work and study of office workers and students during the epidemic prevention and control period.

In response to the government's plan to extend the Spring Festival holiday and support telecommuting and distant education, enterprises are offering online products and services for free so the public are able to work and study at home.

Tencent Cloud, the cloud computing arm of internet giant Tencent, is offering a free video conference product to the public. Using computer software, a mini-program or a mobile app, employees can launch or join a video conference.

The company said that it is also launching other online products and services, such as a collaborative cloud platform and enterprise community, free to all employees across China.

Rokid Co Ltd, a Hangzhou-based artificial intelligence firm, just donated a batch of augmented reality glasses to the front-lines of the antivirus battle in Zhejiang.

Wearing the AR glasses, namely Rokid Glass, front-line medical staff are connected to distant medical professionals, realizing livestreaming diagnosis and treatment from a first-person perspective.

Through telemedicine and AI-assisted medical services, the glasses can make good use of remote medical resources and lower the chance of infection for medical workers. The AR glasses can also be utilized by the supervision departments to track affected patients.

Misa Zhu, chief executive officer of Rokid, said:"The company is also trying to offer the glasses to more areas, including Wuhan, Hubei province, the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak."

Apart from telecommuting, distant education is another focus for IT companies. iTutorGroup, the smart education arm of Ping An Insurance (Group) Co Ltd, opened its online study platform for free. The platform enables students across China to learn effectively at home.

In addition, the platform helps schools digitalize lesson plans, and offer free online courses.

"The epidemic prevention and control period is a key period for Ping An to fulfill social responsibilities. The company will keep an eye on the progress of the epidemic, actively integrate and relocate multiple resources according to actual demands, and spare no efforts in offering supports in fields such as healthcare and insurance," said a statement of Ping An.

Li Yi, deputy head of the Beijing Municipal Education Commission, said distant learning breaks the limitations of time and space, lowers the possibility of infection and offers more flexibility.



The Chinese real estate market is expected to see pressure from sales in the short term this year as the novel coronavirus outbreak has curbed demand and offline sales, although the impact is not likely to last over the long term, industry experts said.

The Spring Festival holiday is traditionally a warm-up season for housing, especially in third-and fourth-tier cities, as some buyers who cannot afford a house in big cities where they work may turn to their hometown instead. Real estate companies often offer discounts and promotional deals to boost sales at this time.

However, the contagious disease, which had infected 9,692 people and claimed 213 lives on the Chinese mainland as of early Friday, has restrained demand and reduced economic activities like consumption and investment, said Liang Qidong, vice-president of the Liaoning Provincial Academy of Social Sciences.

Housing sales from migrant professionals and workers during this period will see a significant drop and the warm season may be postponed to the second quarter of this year, Zhang Bo, chief analyst of Anjuke, a Chinese property portal, told the National Business Daily.

Selling and marketing activities have also declined.

The China Real Estate Association proposed on Jan 26 that property operators suspend business at their offline sales offices in order to prevent human-to-human transmission and contain the further spread of the virus.

So far, more than 50 cities have answered the call, including Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak. The other cities include Guangzhou, Hangzhou, Chengdu and Nanjing, data from the China Index Academy showed.

About 30 provincial-level regions in the country have activated their first-level emergency response to the novel coronavirus outbreak. The suspension of group activities is a method taken by many local governments.

Real estate brands such as Country Garden, Sino-Ocean, China Jinmao, Vanke and Yuexiu have also announced the closure of their sales offices in some cities.

Liu Bo, an analyst with consultancy Roland Berger, said in the short term, the prevention and control of the outbreak would influence construction and sales of real estate projects. It would also pose challenges for property companies that rely on a high turnover rate.

"Besides, top companies may choose to give deep discounts to boost sales, which will squeeze the market space for small-and medium-sized companies," he added.

More property operators such as China Fortune Land Development, Sunac China and Yango have turned to online marketing channels like WeChat mini-programs so that clients can see the floor plan, photos and learn details through phone or online consulting services.

Yan Yuejin, research director at the E-house China R&D Institute, said the measure helps prevent the gathering of people and make marketing more flexible.

He added, though, that the main factor to influence the development of property market has not changed, but the temporary closures would not have a big impact on full-year sales.

Yingda Securities Chief Economist Li Daxiao said as the prevention and control of the novel coronavirus have entered a key period, their impact on some business activities is inevitable.

But the economist pointed out that the "adjustment of policies, as well as the steady recovery of housing sales and prices, can also be expected".



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