The coronavirus hit the Chinese economy unexpectedly in January 2020. Within weeks, many countries have drastically reduced or even closed air traffic with China.
The Chinese government has taken drastic measures, as evidenced by the lockdown of Wuhan—the capital of Central China’s Hubei province, where the outbreak emerged—on January 23 in order to prevent the virus from spreading.
As of February 28, the number of confirmed cases in China had reached 78,961 (following a change in the diagnostic criteria for Hubei on February 13). On one hand, the number of new infections outside Hubei (kept below 100 for the seventh consecutive day) is encouraging. On the other, the draconian containment measures imposed by the government make human movement prohibitively difficult, which in turn impedes progress in the resumption of business. According to the latest release by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology of China, the national average return-to-work ratio of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) hovered around 30 percent by late February. Factory production suspension has indeed resulted in supply chain disruptions of some global companies.