The number of confirmed deaths from China’s coronavirus outbreak rose to 304, as authorities in hardest-hit Hubei province on Sunday reported 45 new fatalities.
In its daily update, figures from the provincial health commission also showed a sharp increase in confirmed infections in Hubei, with 1,921 new cases.
The number of infections in China’s coronavirus outbreak has passed 14,300 nationwide with 2,590 new cases confirmed, the National Health Commission said on Sunday.
The virus is believed to have emerged in December in the provincial capital of Wuhan in a market that sold wild game.
Cases of infections have spread beyond the province as Chinese people travelled across the country and the world for the Lunar New Year holiday that started last week.
China found itself increasingly isolated over the weekend, with the United States and Australia leading a growing list of nations to impose extraordinary Chinese travel bans.
The epidemic has ballooned into a global health emergency with cases in more than 20 countries.
Meanwhile, China’s central bank said Sunday it would pump 1.2 trillion yuan ($173 billion) into the economy as it ramps up support for a nationwide fight against a deadly virus that is expected to hit growth.
The People’s Bank of China (PBOC) said in a statement it would launch a 1.2 trillion yuan reverse repurchase operation on Monday to maintain “reasonable and abundant liquidity” in the banking system, as well as a stable currency market, during the epidemic.
It added that the overall liquidity of the banking system would be 900 billion yuan ($129 billion) more than in the same period last year.
The move will kick in on the day that China’s financial markets reopen, following an extended Spring Festival break.
The PBOC also announced measures Saturday to step up monetary and credit support for enterprises which are helping in its fight against the virus, such as medical companies.
China’s central bank urged financial institutions to provide “sufficient credit resources” to hospitals and medical research units, among other measures.
Authorities also relaxed tariffs on goods imported for use in the virus fight — including those from the United States, with which it has been engaged in a bruising trade war for around two years.
The move to inject liquidity into its financial system comes as authorities work to shore up confidence in an already slowing economy.
The China Securities Regulatory Commission said Sunday that “the epidemic’s impact on the market is short-term, and will not affect the longer-term trend”, reported the state-run People’s Daily.
But China’s travel and tourism sectors have already taken a hit over an unusually quiet Spring Festival break this year, with large-scale events cancelled, public attractions closed and people urged to stay home to help contain the outbreak.
China has advised its citizens to postpone trips abroad and cancelled both overseas and domestic group tours.
Cinemas were made to close during what would otherwise have been a prime time for blockbuster releases.
Other countries have told their nationals to avoid travel to the country as well, with various airlines trimming their schedules.
Manufacturing has also been halted Taiwanese tech giant Foxconn is keeping its factories in China closed until mid-February, allowing more local employees to delay their return after the new year break.
Toyota, IKEA, Starbucks, Tesla, McDonald’s and Volkswagen are among corporate giants temporarily halting production or shuttering outlets in China.
Tech giant Tencent was among companies telling staff to work at home until February 10.
China saw economic growth of 6.1 percent last year, the slowest in around three decades.
Analysts warn that this could weaken further if the spread of the mysterious pathogen goes on for an extended period.
Analysts at S&P said consumption contributed about 3.5 percentage points of China’s growth rate in 2019.
Even a 10 percent drop in consumption would knock about 1.2 percentage points off GDP, they warned.
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