China Business Digest: Covid-19 Threat May Last Into 2024; Gates Foundation Gives More Money to Virus Fight
People around the world may need to face a new seasonal normal with recurrent Covid-19 over the next few years, requiring social distancing measures to remain until 2022, Harvard researchers say. G-20 countries agree on debt relief for poorest countries. Meanwhile, an IMF official sees a strong rebound for China’s economy in the second quarter.
— By Mo Yelin (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Han Wei (email@example.com)
** ON THE CORONAVIRUS
Social distancing may be needed through 2022, study says
The threat of a resurgence of Covid-19 may linger through 2024, forcing countries to continue some level of social distancing measures until 2022, according to a new study by Harvard University.
The study published Tuesday in the journal Science found the disease may become recurrent in wintertime after the initial pandemic wave
“Intermittent distancing may be required into 2022 unless critical care capacity is increased substantially or a treatment or vaccine becomes available,” researchers wrote.
Gates Foundation adds $150 million donation for Covid-19 response
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will pour an additional $150 million into coronavirus response efforts, raising its total commitment to $250 million, the charity said Wednesday. The new funds will go toward developing testing, treatment, and vaccines for Covid-19 as well as strengthening health-care systems in Africa and South Asia, the charity said.
Trump says U.S. outbreak has ‘passed the peak’
At a White House news briefing on Wednesday, President Trump also said he expected some states would reopen this month (link in Chinese). “While we must remain vigilant, it is clear that our aggressive strategy is working,” he said. “The battle continues, but the data suggests that nationwide we have passed the peak on new cases.”
As of Thursday afternoon Beijing time, the U.S. had nearly 640,000 confirmed Covid-19 cases, with over 30,000 deaths.
Second remdesivir trial halted in China
A trial for remdesivir, an experimental drug developed by Gilead Sciences Inc., in Covid-19 patients with mild or moderate symptoms, has been suspended in China, as no eligible patients could be recruited amid an abating epidemic, according to a Wednesday update on ClinicalTrials.gov. Previously, a trial for remdesivir in severely ill Covid-19 patients was terminated.
Dormitory infections push Singapore’s Covid-19 caseload to a new high
On Wednesday, Singapore reported 447 new cases, hitting another daily high, its health ministry announced. That brings the city state’s total cases to 3,699 as of noon on Wednesday. Of the new cases, more than 404 — about 90% — are linked to dormitories, where migrant workers reside in quarters.
Abbott rolling out antibody tests
Abbott Laboratories said on Wednesday that it had launched a test that can detect whether a person has Covid-19 antibodies, regardless of whether they have ever shown symptoms of infection.
Imported cases on the decline on Chinese mainland as local infections rise
The Chinese mainland reported 46 new infections on Wednesday, official data (link in Chinese) showed. Among them, 34 were imported, down from the previous day’s 36 and easing from a brief spike that saw the figure rise to nearly 100 on Sunday.
The remaining 12 cases reported Wednesday were locally transmitted infections — three confirmed in the capital Beijing, five in Guangdong province and four in Heilongjiang province — up from 10 such cases for the previous day. The local cases in Beijing marked the first such new infections for China’s capital in more than three weeks.
Other virus news
• The Group of 20 leading economies agreed to provide temporary debt relief to the world’s poorest countries and backed an International Monetary Fund proposal to set up emergency liquidity lines to support emerging markets amid the pandemic.
• New York state, the outbreak epicenter in the U.S., will extend a statewide lockdown to May 15, Governor Andrew Cuomo said Thursday. New York recorded 606 new deaths, the lowest 24-hour total in 10 days.
• Kristalina Georgieva, head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said Wednesday that an unprecedented 102 of the IMF’s 189 member countries are seeking financial aid from the agency. Georgieva said the IMF is prepared to commit (link in Chinese) its full $1 trillion in lending capacity to support countries dealing with the challenges of the pandemic.
• Eight of the 10 safest places to ride out the coronavirus pandemic are in the Asia-Pacific region, including the Chinese mainland, according to new research released Tuesday.
• As of Thursday afternoon Beijing time, global infections had surpassed the 2 million milestone to reach 2.07 million, with over 137,000 deaths, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
• Two-thirds of people testing positive for the coronavirus without signs of being sick remain symptom-free throughout infection, according to a breakdown published by the Chinese government. Among 6,764 people without symptoms who tested positive for Covid-19, only one-fifth — or 1,297 — later developed symptoms and were reclassified as confirmed cases, a Chinese health official said Wednesday.
Caixin’s coverage of the new coronavirus
** TOP STORIES OF THE DAY
IMF official expects China’s economy to bounce back
China’s economy is expected to experience a strong rebound (link in Chinese) in the second quarter of this year as governments have rolled out policy support that has helped companies and workers get back on the job, according to Kenneth Kang, a deputy director in the Asia & Pacific Department of the IMF.
Foreign direct investment into the mainland down 12.8%
Amid the coronavirus outbreak, foreign direct investment into the mainland in the first quarter fell by 12.8% (link in Chinese) to $31.2 billion, according to the Ministry of Commerce on Thursday.
Residential home prices resume rising, slightly, in March
China continued to see a generally stable housing market, as home prices in 70 major cities showed mild month-on-month increases in March, the data from the National Bureau of Statistics showed (link in Chinese) on Thursday.
Cathay Pacific reports 90% drop in passengers in March
Last month, Cathay Pacific, along with its subsidiary, Cathay Dragon, carried a combined 311,128 passengers last month, down 90% year-on-year, the Hong Kong-based airline said. The airline expected its passenger numbers to stay below 1,000 a day in April, compared with the usual 100,000 in its normal capacity.
Job openings in China fall by 27% in first quarter
As the coronavirus pandemic severely dampens economic activity, job openings in the first three months of this year dropped by 27% in China, according to a report (link in Chinese) released by hiring platform Zhaopin and Peking University’s Guanghua School of Management.
China revising trust industry rules to ease controls on foreign investors
The banking and insurance regulator on Tuesday released a draft revision to rules for administering the country’s trust companies, making it easier for overseas financial institutions to invest in China’s $3 trillion industry.
** OTHER STORIES MAKING HEADLINES
• China’s GDP is expected to have contracted by 7% year-on-year in the first quarter, according to the median estimate from a Caixin survey of economists (link in Chinese). China will report its official first-quarter GDP data on Friday.
• Amid the coronavirus pandemic, Chinese clothing retailers have put out pessimistic earnings forecasts (link in Chinese) for the first quarter.
• Beijing-Shanghai High Speed Railway Co. Ltd. said on Wednesday that it earned profit of 11.9 billion yuan (link in Chinese) on revenue of 32.9 billion yuan in 2019.
• China’s securities regulator announced on Wednesday 20 new appointees to its initial public offering (IPO) approval committee amid a boom in applications for listing and refinancing.
• Wireless carrier China Mobile is paying HK$1.4 billion for 20% of Hong Kong-listed telecoms-software maker Asiainfo Technologies, one of China’s oldest private tech firms.
• New York-listed Chinese online tutoring specialist GSX Techedu Inc. has been targeted by an American short seller that alleged the company inflated revenue by 70%. GSX shares dropped nearly 5% in Wednesday trade in New York. The company is the latest in a growing list of New York-traded Chinese firms to come under short-seller attack.
** AND FINALLY
Leishenshan Hospital, a makeshift facility built in February amid Wuhan’s battle against the coronavirus pandemic, shut its doors Wednesday because all of its patients had been released.
Medical staff wave goodbye Tuesday to an ambulance transferring Leishenshan Hospital’s last remaining patients to Zhongnan Hospital of Wuhan University in Wuhan, Central China’s Hubei province.
** ** LOOKING AHEAD
April 17: China Q1 GDP
Contact reporter Mo Yelin (firstname.lastname@example.org)
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