China expects more companies to resume operations by late February, early March

By Yilei Sun and Shivani Singh
·2-min read
FILE PHOTO: A man wearing a protective mask is seen on a subway in Shanghai

By Yilei Sun and Shivani Singh

BEIJING (Reuters) - More companies in China are expected to resume operations by late February or March, a transport official said on Saturday, as officials try to get the economy up and running again while containing a coronavirus outbreak that has created massive business disruptions.

In particular, authorities are trying to get delivery companies back in operation as quickly as possible, Wu Chungeng, an official at the Ministry of Transport, told a news briefing.

Some companies which have reopened have complained of shortages of parts and materials due to transport restrictions imposed to curb the spread of the virus, while others say they can't get finished goods to customers. The disruptions are increasingly spilling over into global supply chains.

Wu added delivery services of China Post, SF Express and have resumed full operations, while 66.7% of other delivery companies have restarted delivery services.

Ministry data showed over 30% of China's highway and waterway transportation have resumed operations while 28% of road transport companies and 41% of waterway transport companies have resumed work.

Major ports were operating normally, Wu said, adding that 65% of port companies had resumed work.

"The railways and civil aviation transportation network is operating normally, and express delivery is steadily returning to normal," he added.

China will release pork from state reserves as needed, a commerce ministry senior official said at the same briefing.

Supplies of oil, egg, rice and noodles can meet the needs for Wuhan for a "relatively long time", Xian Guoyi, director of department of trade in services and commercial services said

The city of Wuhan, in central Hubei province, is the epicentre of the outbreak and remains in lockdown. The virus has killed over 2,300 people and infected over 76,000.

Xian also said that China had imported 5 billion yuan ($711.69 million) worth of medical supplies to tackle the outbreak.

($1 = 7.0255 Chinese yuan renminbi)

(Reporting by Shivani Singh, Cheng Leng and Yilei Sun; Editing by Gerry Doyle and Kim Coghill)