COVID-19
People wearing face masks walk at Longtan Park, as the country is hit by an outbreak of the new coronavirus, in Beijing (Photo: REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins)

China's Hubei province reported 242 deaths and 14,840 new cases on Thursday. This was a notable jump from the previous day that experts said was the lowest since January 31. There are now 1,310 deaths and a total of 48,206 infections nationwide.  

The Chinese government was quick to clarify that the sudden jump in cases was because of a new diagnosis method they implemented. Under this new scheme, the province also includes those who are "clinically diagnosed." The term means that the patients under this category have yet to be confirmed if they have contracted the virus but are already showing symptoms. 

On Wednesday, Hubei reported 97 deaths and 2,015 new cases of coronavirus which is now officially called COVID-19. The number of deaths reported in the province, which is the epicenter of the outbreak, was the lowest since January 31

The number of new infections peaked on February 4 when there were 3,000 cases reported within 24 hours. Overall, the total cases of COVID-19 nationwide now reached 44,653 with total deaths of 1,113.  

President Xi Jinping said the government will implement tax cuts and other financial aids to market segments hurt by the COVID-19 outbreak. The president's announcement came as factories, big and small businesses and retail stores continue to close in the country., not to mention the tourism industry amid canceled flights.

As of present, hopes are in that Beijing will balance out the economic loss. Elsewhere, a total of 160 million workers are expected to go back to work next week. 

As for those whose places of work are inside the lockdown cities, e-commerce firms are opening temporary jobs for them. These short-term jobs are ready for those affected by the outbreak up until such time that the virus is eradicated.

JD.com opened part-time jobs in its warehouses. Positions include couriers and drivers. As of press time, JD.com has already taken in 700 employees for its logistics company. These workers came from more than 10 companies that were compelled to halt operations.

Dada group, a delivery service provider backed by JD.com, opened 15,000 part-time positions. 

JD.com's supermarket chain, 7FRESH, is also looking into opening some temporary positions. These jobs will be opened to workers from restaurants, hotels, cinemas, and retail outlets that have closed due to the outbreak. 

Alibaba, meanwhile, has also announced it will open temporary jobs but has yet to identify how many positions it can open. 

The impact of the COVID-19 is also gravely felt in the luxury market. The latest to have announced an unpredictable fiscal 2020 result is Bulgari while Gucci's parent company said it is closing more stores in China.

A report from Cowen Equity research said luxury companies will feel the effect of the outbreak more "materially." This will result in reductions in earning for investors but only for the short term. 

Bulgari CEO Jean-Christophe Babin said the company had already closed 50% of its more than 50 stores in China. Kerring SA, Gucci's parent company, also said the same, adding that aside from 50% of its stores being closed, those which remained opened have reduced their operating hours. 

Even the entertainment and sports industry in the country are also feeling the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak. Formula One has already postponed the Chinese Grand Prix which was supposed to take place in April.  

Nevertheless, China said they are at full-war against COVID-19. In its commitment to the fight had requisitioned hospitals, hotels, apartments, cars, and face masks to dedicate solely for the war against the virus. 

The government has also imposed a temporary ban on wildlife markets nationwide. The virus is said to have started in a wildlife market in Wuhan. Most recent research traced the virus to pangolins of which scales and meat are consumed for medical purposes. 

Hopes were ignited when China's chief medical adviser, Zhong Nanshan said the outbreak could be gone by April. He said numbers of new infections were declining which could also mean that the virus is being contained successfully. Nanshan was also at the center of the fight against Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome or SARS in 2003. 

WHO officially named the virus COVID-19 with chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus explaining that "co" is for "corona", "vi" for "virus, and "d" for "disease." The "19" is for the year the virus was identified. 

The name is intended to eradicate any association of the virus to a specific region or race, not even with any animal species. The move was to ensure that there will be no stigma or xenophobia. 

People worldwide tend to blame the spread of the virus with the Chinese. Hate and racism were rampant as the virus spread outside of the Asian region. The COVID-19 jumped to humans purportedly because of illegal wildlife trade in the country.

Those who look into the outbreak more objectively explained that wildlife black market is rampant all over the world. There are other countries where exotic meat is consumed. Coronavirus has been present since ancient times and it just so happen that exotic animals who supposedly spread the COVID-19 were rampant in Wuhan, where the virus is suspected to have infected patient zero.

WHO called against racism and xenophobia. The organization does not even favor the travel bans implemented by many countries.

The fatality rate in the country is now at 2 percent. Most of these people are elderly and with existing respiratory ailment. 

The country, which is home to billions of population, currently has cinemas shutdown even inside its major cities. Theater owners said they have not felt the decline this blatant in about 20 years. Even SARS wasn't able to shut down cinemas, unlike today with the COVID-19

Even the biggest names have yielded to the outbreak. Hilton said it closed 150 hotel rooms in China. If the outbreak persists for the next three to six months and then given another length for a recovery period, Hilton could bleed out between $25 million to %50 million.

To date, more than 300 companies are asking for bank loans. In total, the banks could issue loans amounting to $8.2 billion. Even food delivery giant Meituan Dianping is said to be seeking loans. Others who are looking into financial loans are smartphone maker Xiaomi Corp and Didi Chuxing technology. At the same time, Xinchao Media said it has let go of 500 employees while restaurant chain Xibei can no longer pay its 20,000 staff. 

The outlook is dimmer for small businesses in China and the worst for the residents. Food prices have so far increased by 20%. China's consumer price index climbed 5.4% compared to the same period last year. Pork prices jumped to 116% and vegetables at 17%.