Businesses and stores were beginning to reopen in Beijing and other parts of China on Monday, but the limited amount of activity raised concerns that residents and workers were being extra cautious amid fears that the coronavirus could continue to spread.
Authorities are watching the return of business closely as an uptick in infections had risen sharply n the last 24 hours. In China, more than 900 people have died and over 40,000 have been sickened. More than 440 cases have been reported outside mainland China, including two deaths — one each in Hong Kong and the Philippines.
Zhang Peng, who works for a livestreaming company in Beijing, went to work for the first time since the Lunar New Year holiday, which was supposed to end Jan. 30 but was extended by authorities to prevent the virus from spreading. Workers at Peng’s company were checked for fever and other symptoms and then handed masks.
“I thought the situation is fairly good now,” Zhang said. “I went to work by subway today and underwent various checks in the station. And my company did a good job of prevention and control.”
Iris Ke said she plans to wait until next week to return to work at her advertising company.
“We just need to have a little more sense of self-protection,” said Ke. “Life goes on anyway. How come we stop going outside or stop working simply because of fear of disease? We can’t do that.”
On the streets, avenues were largely free of traffic and rental bikes stood alongside one another without customers in sight. Major tourist attractions like the Forbidden City still remain closed, as are schools.
Shoppers at the Sanyuanli market in Beijing wore masks as they passed stalls stocked with seafood, pork and vegetables.
“The number of customers here is down a lot, maybe by more than half,” said Liu Ying, who sells walnuts, cashews and other specialties. “But you can see a lot of people calling in orders, so we’re slowly getting busy again.”
Chinese leader Xi Jinping visited a community health center in Beijing where he had his temperature taken and thanked workers there.
“We will most definitely win this people’s war,” he said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.