China reported a 4-day drop in new coronavirus infections as the number of imported cases was drastically restricted by international travelers, while policymakers focused their efforts on curing the world's second largest economy.
The city of Wuhan, which was at the center of the outbreak, did not report any new cases on a sixth day when the shops reopened and residents regained a more normal life after an almost two-month ban.
It turned out that employees in masks and gloves were waiting to greet customers at the entrances to the newly opened Wuhan International Plaza, which houses boutiques of luxury brands like Cartier and Louis Vuitton.
"The Wuhan International Plaza is very representative (for the city)," said Zhang Yu, 29. "When it reopened, I really felt that this city was being brought back to life."
The number of 31 new cases on Sunday, including a locally transmitted infection, decreased from 45 the previous day, according to the National Health Commission.
As infections decrease, policymakers are trying to revitalize an economy that has been crippled by months of curbs to control the spread of the flu-like illness.
On Monday, the central bank unexpectedly cut interest rates on reverse repurchase agreements by 20 basis points, the largest in nearly five years.
The government is pressing for companies and factories to reopen as it introduces fiscal and monetary stimulus measures to fear the recovery from the prospect of a real economic downturn in the quarter to March.
China's exports and imports could deteriorate as the pandemic spreads and domestic and foreign demand depresses, Xin Guobin, the deputy minister of industry and information technology, said Monday.
The country has granted 200 billion yuan ($ 28 billion) in loans to 5,000 companies, of which 300 billion have been provided to help companies get back on their feet, Xin said.
The authorities in Ningbo said they would encourage national banks to offer preferential loans of up to 100 billion yuan to the major export companies in the eastern port city. The city government will subsidize such loans, it said in a message.
While new infections have declined sharply since the peak in February, the authorities fear a second wave triggered by the return of Chinese, including many students.
China has cut international flights massively indefinitely since Sunday after refusing entry to almost all foreigners the day before.
The average daily arrival at airports this week is expected to be 4,000, up from 25,000 last week, a Chinese civil aviation authority official said at a press conference in Beijing on Monday.
Returning to work has also raised concerns about possible home infections as curbs are retracted, especially with those who have no or very mild symptoms of the highly contagious coronavirus.
The northwestern province of Gansu reported a new case of a traveler from central Hubei who returned with a virus-free health code, the national health authorities said.
Authorities in Zhejiang province said that asymptomatic pneumonia patients were subject to the same quarantine conditions as confirmed cases, including 14 days in isolation centers, the Xinhua state news agency reported.
According to Hubei authorities, 4.6 million people returned to work in the province by Saturday, of which 2.8 million were traveling to other parts of China.
Most of the migrant migrants left for the southern provinces of Guangdong and Fujian, the eastern provinces of Jiangsu and Zhejiang, and northeast China.
Further retail complexes and shopping streets have been reopened in Hubei's capital, Wuhan. Electric car maker Tesla Inc has also reopened an exhibition space, said a company managing director on Weibo.
Shoppers lined up 1 to 2 meters for temperature checks at Wuhan International Plaza while "green" cell phone codes flashed to confirm a clean health certificate.
In order to be able to resume work, the residents of Wuhan have to carry out nucleic acid tests twice.
"It is very happy to be healthy and to leave home and meet other colleagues who are also healthy," said Wang Xueman, a cosmetic sales representative.