The coronavirus outbreak in China has come down hard on the country’s poor who cannot afford to be quarantined, have less access to supplies, and do not have the money or the connections to leave the country.

“Income disparity certainly makes a lot of difference in crisis-stricken China, and Hubei in particular,” Kent Deng, a professor of economic history at the London School of Economics and Political Science, told DW. 

The cost of food, medicines and supplies have peaked since the outbreak, but “those with a deep pocket will be able to maintain their lifestyle regardless,” Deng said, adding that lower and middle classes “will become impoverished this time next year” once their savings have dried up. 

According to the economist, China’s “well-to-do class” counts for around 50 million in a total population of 1.4 billion. “The vast majority living hand to mouth cannot possibly afford the outbreak of the new virus,” he warned.

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