>TCM epidemic prevention center planned
China plans to build a major center at the national level focusing on the use of traditional Chinese medicine in epidemic prevention and treatment, according to a top economic planner. Sun Zhicheng, a senior official with the social development department of the National Development and Reform Commission, said at a press conference on Monday the center will be tasked with building a talent pool, formulating technical protocols for epidemic prevention and treatment, conducting TCM therapy research and stockpiling relevant medical supplies, among other functions. The center is expected to ramp up the country's capacity of rapid response, prevention, control and treatment in the face of new or emerging infectious diseases and other major public health events by using TCM, Sun said.
>Profits of SOEs rise in Jan-Feb
China's State-owned enterprises registered robust growth in the first two months of 2021 despite low base effects, the Ministry of Finance said on Monday.
The combined profits of China's SOEs rose 150% year-on-year to 548.94 billion yuan in the first two months, MOF data shows. The growth rate offsetting base effects came in at 10.2% during the January-February period, the ministry said on its website.
From January to February, SOEs saw their total revenue surge 33.7% year-on-year to over 10.19 trillion yuan, an 8.2% growth offsetting base effects.
SOEs' debt-to-asset ratio came in at 64.3% at the end of February, flat with the level seen during the same period last year.
>Suez jam may spur train use
Although the giant container ship blocking the Suez Canal in Egypt was refloated on Monday, normalcy in shipping services might be possible only in about two to four weeks, experts said on Monday. Businesses affected by the blockage are exploring alternatives like the China-Europe freight train to move their cargo, they said.
With European demand surging amid shipping delays at sea, transcontinental rail freight from China to Europe saw a sharp rise, the Financial Times reported.
"In the past few days, daily inquiries about the China-Europe freight train have nearly tripled. Apparently, the inquiries reflect rising concerns about shipping uncertainties via the canal," said Zhou Shihao, founder and CEO of YQNLink, a Shanghai-based global intelligent logistics platform.
>UK announces further relaxation
Many people in England emerged from their homes for the first time in weeks on Monday, after the nation's "stay-at-home" order was withdrawn and the country began to slowly emerge from its strict novel coronavirus lockdown.
The relaxation was relatively modest; allowing an unlimited number of people from two households to meet outdoors, and groups of up to six people from multiple households to do likewise.
It also permits outdoor sports to be played, such as golf and tennis. Weddings attended by a maximum of six people also have the go-ahead.
Wales made similar adjustments on Saturday, and the devolved governments of Scotland and Northern Ireland will do likewise later this week.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the relaxations will be closely monitored, with variant strains of the virus that causes COVID-19 flaring in mainland Europe causing concern in the UK.
"Despite today's easements, everyone must continue to stick to the rules. Remember; hands, face, space. And come forward for a vaccine when called," the BBC quoted him as saying.
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