(ATF) China’s second Covid-19 outbreak is spreading rapidly across the country, with more major cities now announcing lockdowns.
Fuzhou is the latest metropolis to announce emergency measures, signalling how far south the outbreak has spread from Hebei Province. Other newly affected cities such as the heavily industrial Changchun and Jilin are also now locked down.
Though China recently published impressive GDP numbers, it has yet to be seen what effect the lockdown of major industrial areas will have.
After a historically severe flood season in 2020, China is now in the middle of a historically cold winter with temperatures across the country hitting record lows. GDP in early 2020 saw the worst growth in 40 years and China has been battling hard to recover.
The new strain of the virus is particularly virulent as evidenced by the story from Jilin Province of a "local super-transmission incident" whereby one ‘superspreader’ infected 139 people.
Officials said the temperature has dropped significantly enough to the point where many respiratory viruses are more likely to spread. And, according to Chinese health officials, laboratory studies have confirmed that the new strain survives more successfully in dry and cold environments without direct sunlight.
But the end of winter also sees the arrival of many of China’s major festivals but it’s likely New Year's Day, the Spring Festival and Lantern Festival will be more subdued affairs this year.
Officials are already trying to discourage the mass migration of workers who go home for China’s Spring Festival. On January 18, Hangzhou City issued notice on a ‘Care Action for Migrant Workers in Hangzhou during the Spring Festival’.
The Hangzhou Daily reported that, as the Spring Festival is approaching, the epidemic situation remains complex and severe and, in order to control the spread of the virus and ahead of the resumption of work and production, it would be better for migrant workers spend the New Year in Hangzhou.
The government is organising alternatives activities and has offered workers a 1,000 yuan compensation payment. It’s thought likely that the Hangzhou scheme will be replicated in other areas.
The Central Government has also advised schools to close early, before the usual Spring Festival break.
In more upbeat news, with most Chinese citizens set for a quieter New Year Spring Festival period, the country’s e-commerce retailers are scaling up for a shopping bonanza.
For example, top shopping site Pinduoduo’s "New Year’s Festival" promotion is offering "Ten Billion Subsidies” along with a series of branded live broadcasts to entertain and sell to consumers.