BEIJING, Jan. 31 (Xinhua) -- More Chinese provinces and municipalities have postponed business operations of enterprises in an effort to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus.
In northeast China's Heilongjiang Province, the authorities have asked all kinds of local enterprises, except those in sectors such as utilities, medical appliances and drugs, supermarkets and food, not to resume their work before Feb. 10, the provincial authorities said in a notification on Thursday.
The local government also urged companies to enhance efforts on prevention and control of the epidemic, including carrying out quarantine inspection, conducting ventilation and disinfection in buildings and allocating personal protection equipment for staff.
The decision was made after the State Council, China's cabinet, extended the seven-day Spring Festival holiday, scheduled to end on Jan. 30, to Feb. 2 and postponed the opening of the spring semesters.
Besides Heilongjiang, a growing number of Chinese provincial-level regions including Shandong and Guizhou provinces and Shanghai have taken similar measures by asking enterprises, except those involved in key sectors, not to resume their work earlier than at midnight on Feb. 9, in a move to reduce crowds of people and prevent the spread of the coronavirus outbreak.
In Shandong, local authorities also suspended large-scale on-site recruitment activities and vocational skills training events. Employees were encouraged to participate in these activities online.
To help enterprises deal with the temporary cease in operations, financial regulators in south China's Guangdong Province released a notification Thursday, encouraging financial institutions to offer support for enterprises in wholesale and retail, catering, logistics and tourism and those companies postponing the resumption of work.
Banking financial institutions are encouraged to take supporting measures, such as delaying repayment, cutting interest rates, and reducing or exempting overdue interest for enterprises affected by the epidemic.
Chinese health authorities confirmed 9,692 infected cases by the novel coronavirus in 31 provincial-level regions and the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps by the end of Thursday. A total of 213 people have died of the disease.