China raised the death toll from the coronavirus epidemic to 811 on Sunday, passing the number killed globally by the SARS epidemic in 2002/2003, as millions prepare to return to work after an extended Lunar New Year break. Authorities had told businesses to tack up to 10 extra days onto holidays that had been due to finish at the end of January as the rising numbers of dead and infected cast a pall over the country.
Many of China’s usually teeming cities have almost become ghost towns during the past two weeks as Communist Party rulers ordered virtual lockdowns, canceled flights, closed factories and shut schools.The sight of an economy regarded as a workshop to the world laid so low has taken a toll on international financial markets, as shares slumped and investors switched into safe-havens like gold, bonds and the Japanese yen.
Even on Monday, a large number of workplaces and schools will remain closed and many white-collar employees will work from home.
China has blocked a plan by Apple Inc supplier Foxconn Technology Co Ltd to resume production in China from Monday, the Nikkei business daily reported.Gaming giant Tencent Holdings Ltd said on Sunday it had asked staff to continue working from home until Feb. 21. Hebei province, which surrounds Beijing, will keep schools shut until March 1, the People’s Daily newspaper said. Several provinces have shut schools until the end of February.