China seeks to boost economy as first virus death reported outside its borders
BEIJING/MANILA: The first death from the coronavirus outside of China was reported on Sunday and the Beijing government took steps to shore up an economy hit by travel curbs and business shut-downs because of the epidemic.
A 44-year-old Chinese man from the city of Wuhan in Hubei province, the epicenter of the epidemic, traveled to the Philippines and died there on Saturday, the Philippines’ Department of Health said.
The vice governor of China’s Hubei province, Xiao Juhua, said the virus outbreak was still “severe and complicated”.
A total of 304 people have died in China, the National Health Commission said on Sunday. Infections in China jumped to 14,380 as of Saturday, it said.
At least another 171 cases have been reported in more than two dozen other countries and regions, including the United States, Japan, Thailand, Hong Kong and Britain.
Beijing is facing mounting isolation as countries introduce travel restrictions, airlines suspend flights and governments evacuate their citizens, risking worsening a slowdown in the world’s second-largest economy.
China’s central bank said it would inject a hefty 1.2 trillion yuan ($173.8 billion) worth of liquidity into the markets via reverse repo operations on Monday as the country prepares to reopen its stock markets after an extended Lunar New Year holiday.
The government also said it would help firms that produce vital goods resume work as soon as possible, state broadcaster CCTV reported, citing a meeting chaired by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang.
Hong Kong Financial Secretary Paul Chan said the risk of further contraction in the region’s economy, which was buffeted by anti-government protests last year, has increased due to the epidemic.
Catering, retail, tourism and consumer sectors, which have been hit in the last six months, would “fall into a deeper winter”, Chan said.
In Beijing, some malls stayed open during the extended holiday but staff wearing surgical masks stood outside shops offering to take customers’ temperatures. Many other stores and cafes in the capital and other cities chose to close. – Reuters