Beijing is lonely in fear of the corona virus
4 mins read

Beijing is lonely in fear of the corona virus

Yesterday was the third day Beijingers returned to work after a longer-than-expected Lunar New Year holiday due to the corona pneumonia (Covid-19) epidemic.

`Normally, thousands of subway passengers from the nearby station will stop by to buy something. But now I’m lucky to see about 20 people stop by every hour,` said Nancy Cao, a 25-year-old cashier.

A man wearing a mask rides a bicycle on a deserted street in Beijing on February 12.

Concerned that the pneumonia epidemic will affect the growth rate that the Chinese government is trying to maintain at 6%, officials have called on businesses across the country to return to work after extending the Lunar New Year holiday.

In the capital Beijing, a city of 22 million people that has recorded 352 cases of nCoV infection, the streets, office buildings and shops remained quite deserted on the third day people started going back to work.

Sanlitun, a flashy shopping mall usually bustling with people during lunch breaks, now resembles a wasteland.

Chinese state media said 80% of manufacturing enterprises in Beijing have returned to operations and officials also confirmed that major projects will resume as soon as possible.

Beijing is lonely in fear of the corona virus

A woman wearing a mask sits alone in a cafe at Solana shopping center, Beijing on February 12.

Most banks are closed and office buildings are almost deserted.

Only 400 people came to the Gemdale Plaza office building in Dongcheng District, a business center in Beijing on February 10, less than 10% of normal, the building’s manager said.

`I work at home. When I walked my dog last afternoon when the weather was quite warm, I saw that many small businesses in this neighborhood were still closed. The fruit store, the noodle shop where I used to borrow a bicycle pump,

Travel time is now cut in half compared to normal days because there are no people on the road.

Throughout the streets, there are now only cleaning staff and street washing machines.

`I disinfect both the broom and the garbage cart. How can I not be worried? Everyone is worried and scared,` said Xu Changfu, a cleaning worker from Inner Mongolia.

For many people trapped in the pneumonia epidemic, even though they are not directly affected, it is difficult for them to return to normal life as before.

`I of course feel very bad not knowing what to do at this time. But I have no other choice,` said Zhang Yi, assistant director of a film project in Beijing that had to be suspended due to the epidemic.

The coronavirus could be a major blow to the Chinese film industry, Zhang said.

Reports from many areas across the country show that people are still afraid to be around other people.

In Guangzhou, a city of 12 million people, many large electronics and automobile factories prohibit employees from eating at restaurants except company canteens until further notice.

The Shenzhen government did not allow high-tech industrial parks, home to many migrant workers, to open until February 17.

`Like many others, I am very afraid of this virus,` said Xu, owner of advertising and printing shop Hexing, adding that he had lost a month of revenue.

Beijing is lonely in fear of the corona virus

A man wearing a mask walks outside the deserted Solana shopping center in Beijing on February 12.

However, with many people reluctant to leave home to return to work after the holiday, many Chinese officials warn of the impact of restricting travel when the virus is not under control.

`We are afraid that factories will disappear with the pneumonia epidemic. The interruption of the machine that pumps new blood into the economy is even scarier than the epidemic itself,` Hoang Ky Pham, vice president

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