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China gradually returns to work amid coronavirus disruptions

By Elena Berton

The resumption of operations could be further delayed for several factories, threatening the global supply chain

China is gradually returning to work after the lunar new year holiday which was extended in an attempt to contain the coronavirus outbreak.

Authorities had initially said operations could restart on February 10, but the resumption of operations could be further delayed for many factories – including Apple’s largest manufacturer, Foxconn – threatening the global supply chain.

The Taiwan-based company said in a statement : “The operation schedules for our facilities in China follow the recommendations of the local governments, and we have not received any requests from our customers on the need to resume production earlier.”

Automakers including Daimler, Tesla and Ford have said they expected to restart production on February 10. However, rivals Volkswagen and Toyota have extended the shutdown of their Chinese plants to the following week.

Some provinces and districts have now told companies to not return to work until March 1, according to officials.

While business activities in some provinces are resuming partially, workers returning from other provinces are still subject to quarantine. Some sectors, including construction, will need to delay resumption of work.

The extended shutdown in China is already disrupting global supply chains and increasing risks to global growth as the coronavirus continues to spread worldwide.

Hot Pot stocks slumped in Hong Kong, after members of the same family who shared a large dinner in January were confirmed to have the coronavirus.

Xiabuxiabu Catering Management China Holdings Co, a large hotpot restaurant chain, dropped as much as 8.3 per cent before closing down 7.1 per cent.

Rival Haidilao International Holding ended 4.8 per cent lower, while Yihai International Holding, which makes seasonings and sauce products for Hot Pot, slid 2.7 per cent.

While cases outside China appear to be low, the World Health Organization has warned the spread could accelerate.

The coronavirus has so far killed 910 people globally, the vast majority in mainland China, and infected around 40,000 people. It has outpaced the global death toll from the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) outbreak of 2003.

Outside mainland China there have been more than 350 infections reported in nearly 30 places. Two deaths have been reported so far, one in the Philippines and the other in Hong Kong.

Newly confirmed coronavirus cases aboard the Diamond Princess ship docked in Yokohama, Japan, have brought the total number of infected passengers on the vessel to 136.

The UK government has declared the outbreak a serious and imminent threat to public health, a step that gives authorities additional powers to fight the spread of the virus.

The development followed the news that four more patients had tested positive, bringing the total number of UK cases to eight.

Japan’s Sony was the latest tech company to pull out of the upcoming Mobile World Congress in Barcelona after Amazon, LG Electronics, Ericsson and Nvidia withdrew citing concerns over the spread of the coronavirus.

FURTHER READING: Chinese cryptominers put operations on hold due to coronavirus outbreak

FURTHER READING: Chinese manufacturing expands despite coronavirus

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