China slowly returns to work as coronavirus toll hits daily record
BEIJING (Reuters) - Workers began trickling back to offices and factories around China on Monday as the government eased some restrictions on working in the wake of the coronavirus epidemic that has now killed more than 900 people, mostly on the mainland. Sunday’s death toll of 97 was the largest in a single day since the outbreak was first detected in December at a seafood market in Hubei province’s capital, Wuhan. Across mainland China, there were 3,062 new confirmed infections, bringing the total number so far to 40,171, according to the National Health Commission (NHC). The epidemic has caused huge disruptions in China with usually teeming cities becoming virtual ghost towns during the past two weeks as Communist Party rulers ordered virtual lockdowns, cancelled flights, closed factories and shut schools. Authorities had told businesses to tack up to 10 extra days onto Lunar New Year holidays that had been due to finish at the end of January. Even on Monday, a large number of workplaces will remain closed and many white-collar workers will continue to work from home. On one of the usually busiest subway lines in Beijing, trains were largely empty. The few commuters sighted during peak-hour morning traffic were all wearing masks. Hubei, the province hit hardest by the outbreak, remains in virtual lockdow, with its train stations and airports shut and its roads sealed off. Some restrictions on people entering and leaving residential compounds are in place in many other cities across China, and schools in many regions will be shut through the end of February.