After Shanghai’s high Covid-19 recovery rate officials now focus on getting manufacturing hub back on its feet

Daniel Ren

Shanghai’s high recovery rate of 50 per cent against the coronavirus epidemic has given the city’s top officials confidence to resume manufacturing and business activities in mainland China’s most developed metropolis at full tilt.

Professor Lu Hongzhou, an epidemiologist at the Shanghai Public Health Clinical Centre where the city’s Covid-19 patients are hospitalised, attributed the high success rate to local medical specialists’ strenuous efforts, advanced facilities, as well as early diagnosis and prompt treatment.

“We mobilised the best doctors from a variety of fields to treat patients and the efforts paid off in rescuing critical patients,” he told reporters at a press conference on Monday. “Our centre acts as a fortress for Shanghai to fight against the [Covid-19] epidemic.”

The hospital in the southwest suburb of Jinshan is getting an additional infectious disease facility with another 200 beds to tackle such emergencies in the future. “We are planning ahead to better prepare in its fight against new viruses,” Lu said.

Professor Lu Hongzhou, an epidemiologist at the Shanghai Public Health Clinical Centre, said the hospital is upgrading its facilities to better prepare against future epidemics. Photo: Daniel Ren

As of Monday, 161 of the 332 Covid-19 patients in Shanghai had fully recovered and been released from hospitals, and seen only one death, making the city a front runner in the fight against the deadly outbreak. Nationwide, 12,552 patients have been treated and sent home for a cure rate of 17.3 per cent, while the death toll on the mainland stood at 1,868.

The high recovery rate matters because China’s premier financial hub of 25 million residents is being lauded as a role model for how other provincial and municipal authorities should tackle the worst public health crisis to hit the nation in two decades. Ying Yong, who on Thursday was parachuted to take over as Hubei’s Commissar at the epicentre of the epidermic, was credited with attracting Tesla to set up its first overseas assembly in Shanghai while he was the city's top Communist Party cadre.

Shanghai is now striving to get its economy back to normal, with the city’s Communist Party secretary Li Qiang calling on local officials to facilitate the resumption of manufacturing activities just as they took preventive measures to contain the spread of the epidemic.

Shanghai government spokesman Xu Wei said the city officials would make all out efforts to help companies restart production as soon as possible. US electric carmaker Tesla resumed production at its US$2 billion Shanghai factory, where it makes Model 3 cars, on February 10.

Shanghai is also home to some of China’s most significant industries, including the nation’s ambitious commercial aviation industry. Global carmakers from General Motors to Volkswagen too have their factories in the world’s largest vehicle market.

Shanghai is aiming for 6 per cent growth and an unemployment rate below 4.3 per cent for 2020 after the city reported the slowest pace of economic expansion since 1990 last year.

Shanghai mayor Ying Yong has been appointed secretary of the Hubei provincial committee of the Communist party to help bring the coronavirus outbreak under control. Photo: EPA-EFE

A survey by recruitment firm Zhaopin showed that 77.6 per cent of Shanghai-based companies decided to resume work on February 3. But ground realities – lack of labour and protective gears such as face masks – proved to be a hurdle for most of them to implement their plans.

Meanwhile, another survey of 109 companies by the American Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai found that while two-thirds of factories were up and running by the end of last week, 78 per cent did not have enough workers to kick-start full production.

“We need thousands of face masks to ensure the plant can run at its full capacity,” said Han Haifeng, CEO of Shanghai New Era Printing. “But we are unable to secure enough masks so far to call our workers back to restart work.”

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