The American Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai (AmCham Shanghai)

Coronavirus Health Update

China’s National Health Commission reported that there were 8 new cases of COVID-19 in China yesterday (March 12), with 6 in Hubei province. The number of cumulative cases reached 80,813. There were two imported cases in Shanghai yesterday, one from the US and one from Italy.

The number of cumulative cases reached 7,869 in South Korea (where cases are slowing down significantly) 15,113 in Italy, and 10,075 in Iran. The United States now has 1,663 reported cases. Globally, over 68,324 people have recovered from the coronavirus.

Policy Updates

Shanghai Adds USA, France, Germany and Spain to Quarantine List: On Thursday the Shanghai Municipal Government expanded the list of countries that have been severely impacted by the coronavirus from four to eight. Travelers entering Shanghai who have been in France, Spain, Germany and the United States in the last 14 days will now be subjected to the same stringent quarantine measures that are in place for passengers from South Korea, Japan, Italy and Iran. Passengers who transit through these countries will be considered as having visited them. Depending on their unique circumstances and health conditions, travelers from these countries will be subjected to a stringent 14-day home quarantine or sent to a facility for medical observation.

China Crossed Coronavirus Peak:Wuhan marked its first day with single-digit infection increases on March 11 with eight new confirmed cases, while elsewhere in Hubei there were no new confirmed cases in the past week. In response to the slowdown, China’s National Health Commission announced yesterday that the country has passed its peak of the coronavirus epidemic.

According to the latest data from the Ministry of Industry and Information, the rate of the country’s work resumption has inched up – most of the industrial enterprises in leading industrial provinces are seeing an over 90% production resumption rate; small and medium-sized firms’ work resumption rate has reached 52% nationwide. However, analysts said that the recovery “could be hurt by surging global cases” and “held back by weakening demand from Europe and the U.S., where cases are still surging.”

Economic Impact

Apple Opens: In another sign that China’s economy may finally be stirring, Apple has announced that all 42 China stores will have reopened by today. Thirty-eight stores had reportedly opened by the beginning of this week, with three outlets in Tianjin and one in Suzhou expected to open today.

Unknown Economics Waters: Well-regarded economists interviewed by the South China Morning Post see the global economy headed into unknown waters – or worse still, a recession. The immediacy of the virus’s impact on so many different industries has also added to the complexities of economic forecasting.

Start Your Engines: China’s difficulty restarting its economy may offer lessons for countries about to experience similar slowdowns as they attempt to halt the coronavirus’s spread, writes the New York Times.

Cheap Oil: A Poisoned Chalice? Cheap oil prices could aid China’s economic recovery from the coronavirus, but they may also imperil future investment by state and privately held oil companies. With the country keen to expand its sources, that could be troublesome, or so says the South China Morning Post.

More Airline Angst: The number of airlines impacted by the coronavirus continues to grow, with carriers such as American, ANA, Delta, Norwegian and Virgin among those cutting flights as global demand continues to slacken. The US’ European travel ban for the next month has added to fears of more bankruptcies in the sector, writes Reuters.

Futures Lift: U.S. and European stock market futures are pointing in a positive direction after yesterday’s mauling. Anticipation of central bank intervention has elevated spirits, but some observers believe that central banks have exhausted their stimulatory firepower over the past few years.

Other News

Aid on the Way: Congress is nearing a deal with the White House for an emergency economic aid package to provide enhanced unemployment benefits, free virus testing, aid for food assistance programs and federal funds for Medicaid. It will also include 14-days paid sick leave and tax credits for small and medium-sized businesses.

The Wait for a Vaccine: The Wall Street Journal offers a detailed look at the global race to find treatments and a vaccine for the coronavirus, but warns it could be 12 to 18 months before an approved drug hits the market.

Yichang Opens Up: The city of Yichang in Hubei province announced it will loosen its travel restrictions, allowing people in and out of the city for the first time since the lockdown began.

Don’t Worry, Tom Hanks is Doing Fine: Tom Hanks and his wife Rita Wilson say they’re “taking it one day at a time” and remain in good spirits while in isolation for the virus in Australia. Other luminaries who have also become infected in the last few days, include Sophie Grégoire Trudeau, wife of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. The Prime Minister will remain in isolation for 14 days as a precaution.

Meanwhile, both Boris Johnson and Donald Trump have said they won’t be tested for the virus, despite both encountering individuals who have proven to be infected. Trump met with an infected Brazilian official earlier this week, and Johnson’s health minister Nadine Dorries announced that she also contracted the virus and had recently met with the prime minister.