GUANGZHOU -- The government of Hubei Province, the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak, said Thursday it will extend its business shutdown for a third time, this time to March 10, more than a month and a half after the Lunar New Year holiday was slated to end.
All companies except those in certain essential industries, such as public utilities, medicine and food, will be asked to remain closed to keep the virus from spreading in workplaces and on public transit. The halt was previously slated to run through Thursday.
The prolonged shutdown risks creating a supply bottleneck for businesses elsewhere in mainland China, many of which reopened Feb. 10. Hubei Province is a manufacturing center for such products as steel, semiconductors and display panels, and it houses production facilities for companies including Honda Motor, Nissan Motor and General Motors.
China's National Health Commission tallied about 62,000 COVID-19 cases in the province as of the end of Wednesday, accounting for more than 80% of all cases in mainland China.
The provincial government has largely barred residents from going out, prompting complaints from some that they could not be expected to return to work if they could not leave their homes.