- Province had been worst hit area outside Hubei, but authorities decide some controls can be eased after number of new cases reported slows
- Beijing has been pushing to get people back to work with President Xi Jinping urging officials to lower the emergency response level where possible
China's southern economic powerhouse of Guangdong lowered its public health emergency response to the Covid-19 epidemic on Monday, offering relief to some businesses.
A Grade I alert " the highest level " had been in force for a month and the decision to lower it to a Grade II was matched by five other provinces and came amid a government push to get the country's economy moving again.
On Sunday, President Xi Jinping addressed tens of thousands of officials across the country in a rare teleconference in which he told them to vary disease control measures depending on local conditions, and to downgrade emergency response levels where possible.
Guangdong, which neighbours Hong Kong, has been the worst-hit province after Hubei, the epicentre of the outbreak, with 1,345 confirmed cases of infection and six deaths. But the number of new cases reported each day has fallen to single digits over the past week.
Zhong Nanshan, the Guangdong-based respiratory expert who is leading the country's response to the coronavirus that causes Covid-19, told state television on Monday that a high degree of public awareness allowed the province to lower its response.
"I think now is the right time," Zhong said. "This will help production to resume."
Zhong said a Grade II response meant the authorities could apply different disease control measures in different risk areas, instead of imposing tight controls indiscriminately.
Yang Xiaoying, the founder of Jinsheng, a shoe insole maker in Dongguan city, said the decision was "good news for us manufacturers".
Escape from Hubei: mother and child back in Hong Kong after 10-hour road trip
The business employs around 300 people, but fewer than 100 had been able to make it into work with the rest forced to stay at home under quarantine.
Around a third of the company's output is exported to Europe and the US and Yang said that it would have been increasingly difficult to keep the business going if Covid-19 had continued to spread.
The epidemic has claimed more than 2,500 lives and infected more than 77,000 people in mainland China. But the number of new cases reported outside Hubei slowed to just 11 on Sunday, with 24 provinces saying there had been no new cases.
Last month all parts of the country declared a Grade I emergency, which placed the provincial authorities' responses under the direction of the national government.
On Monday a spokesman for the National Health Commission said some provinces would be able to lower their alert levels and try to get businesses back to work.
The coal-rich Shanxi province has also downgraded the outbreak to a Grade II emergency, while Gansu, Liaoning, Guizhou and Yunnan have classed it as a Grade III event.
Coronavirus: China likely overestimating economic recovery
Lu Jiahai, a professor of epidemiology at Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou, said the turning point had not yet been reached, and various factors would determine when local authorities would be able to lower their emergency levels.
"There are different facts such as the environment, number of infections and migrant populations in different provinces and cities," said Lu.
"I suppose that Beijing and Shanghai will adjust their strategies soon based on the situation," Lu said.
"The turning point is no new confirmed cases. We should remain cautious."
Additional reporting by Shi Jiangtao
Purchase the China AI Report 2020 brought to you by SCMP Research and enjoy a 20% discount (original price US$400). This 60-page all new intelligence report gives you first-hand insights and analysis into the latest industry developments and intelligence about China AI. Get exclusive access to our webinars for continuous learning, and interact with China AI executives in live Q&A. Offer valid until 31 March 2020.
Copyright (c) 2020. South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved.查看原始文章