Why the coronavirus is a real threat to China's economy
Added 01-25-20 12:37:02am EST - “The deadly new coronavirus has started spreading across China and beyond and has infected hundreds of people. The outbreak has already started to take a toll on the nation's economy right ahead of the Chinese New Year.” - Rt.com
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As the death toll and the number of confirmed cases is rapidly rising, China has put on lockdown cities in Hubei province, including Wuhan, from where the outbreak is believed to have originated.
The virus is set to disrupt the plans for thousands of Chinese right before one of the biggest national holidays — the Lunar New Year, or Spring Festival — that kicked off on Friday. This is one of the busiest periods for travelling, as the holiday is traditionally celebrated with family and is definitely a hot shopping season, when people spend money on leisure and gifts.
With the transport links to the effected cities closed, China's State Railway Group said passengers could get refunds for rail tickets nationwide from January 24. Apart from cancellation of flights to and from Wuhan, some air carriers are already avoiding the city. Chinese passengers who booked flights to or from Wuhan can ask for a free refund from airlines, the nation's civil aviation regulator announced earlier this week.
Meanwhile, cities have started to prevent people from large gatherings in an apparent attempt to stop the risk of infection. On Thursday, Beijing cancelled major public events, including Chinese New Year temple fairs. Another major city, Shanghai, which is much closer to the epicenter of the outbreak, cancelled some activities scheduled for the holiday season and said that some tourist attractions will be closed, including some parks, viewpoints on the skyscrapers and main museums.
The local tourism industry has also begun to prepare, as one of the largest Chinese online travel agencies, Trip.com, also known as Ctrip, offered its clients free cancellation on all hotels, car rentals and tickets for tourist attractions in Wuhan. Some other agencies, including Meituan, ly.com (also known as Tongcheng-Elong), qyer.com and Alibaba’s Fliggy have reportedly followed suit.
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