How did the outbreak start?In early December in 2019, the first cases were identified from patients with severe pneumonia in the hospitals in Wuhan - the capital city of Huber province. The Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in Wuhan has been widely considered as the starting point of the outbreak. According to the analysis of The Lancet, around half of 99 surveyed patients had a history of exposure to the market. Similar to SARS and MERS, the novel coronavirus appears to have originated in bats. Coronaviruses that originate in animals are usually not transmissible to humans. It is still not clear how the virus jumped from animals to humans.
How did the Chinese government respond?To combat the virus, the Chinese government announced a series of measures, including the cancellation of all Chinese New Year celebrations and a strict nationwide lockdown. On February 3, 2020, the 25,000-square-meter Huoshenshan Hospital was built swiftly with a capacity of 1,000 beds to expand the hospital capacity in the epicenter. On March 11, the World Health Organization officially declared the novel coronavirus a pandemic. A week later, the Chinese government reported no new domestically transmissions for the first time. On March 31, the National Health Commission (NHC) announced that it would begin reporting the infection number of symptom-free individuals who tested positive for coronavirus. After no new deaths reported for first time, China lifted ten-week lockdown on Wuhan on April 8. Daily life was returning slowly back to normal in the country. There were some small outbreaks in Beijing in June and in Xinjiang in July. With a swift launch of tracing, testing, and community lockdowns, the outbreaks were quickly under control. On the same time, Chinese government and private institutions have invested heavily - about 1.4 billion U.S. dollars - in developing vaccines, therapy, and tests. As of September, 11 COVID-19 vaccines have begun clinical trials, four of which have entered phase three trials.
What are the economic impacts?The rapid spread of the disease has impacted global business and tourism. International companies, such as Apple, Tesla, and IKEA, shut down their operations in the country during the outbreak. With more travel restrictions imposed inside and outside of China, numerous bookings of flights, hotels, and tours have been canceled. Although the majority of companies had been back to normal operation, consumer spending remained weak. Due to its impact on China’s trade and effects on various industries across the world, the coronavirus is expected to result in a further slow down to the Chinese GDP growth in 2020.
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