The Coronavirus threat continues to dominate our daily lives here in America, and around the world. Our nightly news, the updates by our President and governors everyday, the internet, all are captivating our interests as we continue to make our families and friends health our most important priority. This virus is contagious and spreads fast enough that the prospect of a bottleneck in the healthcare system requires all of us to be vigilant, careful and follow government mandated measures including closures and keeping safe distances from others.
China, where the Coronavirus began now has some 1.5 months experience so thought it beneficial and instructive to look at their experience to see if and when there may be light at end of the tunnel-when might we begin to see some positive news.
The information and observations outlined below come from a friend who has colleagues and business partners in China, Chinese investment bank research, and the Chinese media. Quick reminder the first lockdown in Wuhan where this all began took place on January 23 of this year.
Reports are that life in China is returning to normal
Residents in most cities including Shanghai, Beijing, Shenzhen and Hong Kong are free to go outside and move freely. Wuhan, while the situation is improving, continues to have restrictions. Shanghai City Park had visitors of 390,000 people on March 14, and 15. Shanghai expects all 335 parks to be open by March 20. 38 museums, art galleries, 22 libraries and cultural centers and 48 A-level scenic spots opened over the weekend of March 14, 15 in Shanghai. Shenzhen City Parks had 392,000 visitors March 14, 15 and 40% of China’s scenic zones have reopened.
Infectious cases originating in China have slowed to few(mostly concentrated in Wuhan). Now, China’s challenge will be to keep the International spread of the virus from re-infecting its population. 16 new cases were reported in China on March 15 with total reported cases of 80,860. Yesterday, March 18, there were no new cases reported in China. Facilities opened to handle virus are now closed and doctors called in from around China are now returning to home towns-this is confirmed by people on the ground. Almost half of Chinese provinces have reached 100% clearance and are not reporting new cases. China’s schools are starting to re-open after being closed for 1 month.
Business is resuming, but still in early days.
In last week of February, bookings for domestic flights departing in June surged 250% compared to previous week, demonstrating that people are beginning to feel comfortable traveling again.
Urban travel intensity across the country is estimated to be approximately 90% of the same period last year. Wuhan is still 20% of the same period last year.
February 10th to 16th was the first week of work resumption and work rate was 48% of capacity. March 2nd to March 8th was the fourth week of work resumption and the nominal work resumption was 84% and capacity resumption rate was 77%.
Average daily coal consumption is rising daily and compared with an average of the past 3 years is 80.6%. It was 534,000 daily tons on March 13th.
Sales of commercial housing, land, and automobiles are about 50% of the same period last year, average daily real estate sales volume of the 30 large and medium cities has increased to about 66% of the same period average of the past 3 years.
85% of retail fashion stores closed during the epidemic and over 90% have not reopened. Sales are only 30-40% of pre-epidemic but are expected to continue to increase. Online sales seem to be replacing off-line sales especially as retailers transfer focus to online communities and techniques.
It is impossible to predict if the U.S. trajectory will be the same as China’s. China has some tools that the U.S. does not have and, the U.S. has some tools that China does not have.
China has the most experience with this epidemic and after 1.5 months is showing clear signs of returning to normal activities and their businesses are also showing signs of recovery. So, there is light at the end of the tunnel. Be safe, and be vigilant, follow guidelines and requests from our leaders and health officials.