Coronavirus: Hubei companies need government approval before restarting work

In a photo taken on Feb 5, 2020, a worker with a face mask works on a production line manufacturing soybean-based food products at a factory in Hefei, Anhui province, China. PHOTO: REUTERS

WUHAN (BLOOMBERG, REUTERS) - Companies in Hubei need approval from the local government's epidemic control division before they can restart work, as the Chinese province at the centre of the coronavirus outbreak tightened rules even further to curb its spread.

Private vehicles that are not used for virus-related activities will be temporarily barred in urban areas, while public places that are not providing essential services should be closed, the Hubei government said in a statement on its website.

Unnecessary public gatherings should also be halted, it said.

Residents must also get health checks on a regular basis, according to the directive.

Meanwhile, the state-run China Central Television, citing Dr Wang Xinghuan, head of Wuhan Leishenshan Hospital, reported that the turning point for the coronavirus epidemic has been reached and the number of new outbreaks is declining.

The number of people with a fever has been sliding steadily and has never rebounded, Dr Wang was cited as saying.

Hubei reported 1,933 new cases on Monday (Feb 17), slightly higher than a day earlier, and 100 additional deaths.

The Hubei health commission said the total number of cases in the province had reached 58,182 by the end of Sunday, with 1,696 deaths.

Nearly 90 per cent of the new cases were in the provincial capital of Wuhan, where the virus is believed to have originated.

Wuhan has accounted for 71 per cent of the province's total cases and 77 per cent of deaths.

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