People line up to buy face masks at a drug store in Nanjing in eastern China's Jiangsu Province. Image Credit: AP

Beijing: China’s economic growth may drop to 5% or even lower in the first quarter as the coronavirus hits more sectors, possibly leading policymakers to introduce more stimulus measures, a government economist said in remarks published on Wednesday. The outbreak could cut first-quarter GDP growth by about 1 percentage point, Zhang Ming, an economist at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences — a top government think tank — said in a report published in Caijing magazine.

Zhang’s forecasts are based on the assumption that outbreak will peak in early to mid-February, and end by the end of March.