Chinese Companies Take Actions to Help Contain the New Coronavirus Outbreak

Travelers at a train station (Source: Associated Press)

Three weeks after China announced the outbreak of a new strain of coronavirus in the city of Wuhan, more than 400 people in China have been diagnosed with the virus, and nine have died. There are at least five other countries and regions that have detected infected patients, including Japan, South Korea, Thailand, Taiwan and the United States.

The virus was first found in mid-December 2019 in Wuhan, where a cluster of people who worked at the Huanan Seafood Market caught pneumonia of unknown cause. Chinese scientists soon isolated a new coronavirus and designated it 2019-nCoV. It is believed that the virus was originally spread from animals at the market, and human-to-human transmission has been confirmed.

The central and local authorities have taken the matter very seriously, in part because hundreds of millions are traveling this week for Chinese New Year. Actions have been taken at national, municipal and individual levels to prevent the virus’s spread. Authorities advise people to avoid traveling to and from Wuhan, the city at the center of the outbreak. The Civil Aviation Administration instructed airlines to refund flight tickets to or from Wuhan free of charge if requested. Travel services providers such as Ctrip and Fliggy also provide full refund for bookings related to Wuhan.

Demand for face masks, disinfectant and drugs such as radix isatidis has surged all over the country, and shares of drugmakers and face mask manufacturers have jumped. E-commerce platforms including Taobao, Pinduoduo, JD.com and Suning.com said they’re implementing strict controls on masks, sanitizers, thermometers, drugs and related products to prevent aggressive price increases.

Food delivery apps Meituan and Ele.me also made announcements about the outbreak. Meituan said in Wuhan and other affected areas, delivery men are required to wear face masks and measure their own temperatures everyday. Food boxes on the delivery vehicles are required to be sterilized once in the morning and once in the evening. Delivery services to some local hospitals is suspended. Additionally, the company is conducting a thorough investigation on game fowl and meat on and will take relevant products and merchants offline. Both Meituan and Ele.me said a rise in the price of masks is banned, allowed and they’re coordinating with mask manufacturers to ensure a steady supply.