Hong Kong (CNN Business)China’s economy has just experienced its worst three-month period in decades as the coronavirus pandemic forced much of the country to shut down for weeks on end.

The world’s second largest economy contracted 6.8% in the first quarter of 2020 compared to a year earlier, according to government statistics released Friday. That’s even worse than the 6.5% decline that analysts polled by Reuters predicted.

The plunge is the worst for a single quarter that China has recorded since it started publishing such figures in 1992. It’s also the first time China’s economy has shrunk since 1976, when Communist Party leader Mao Zedong’s death ended a decade-long social and economic tumult in China.

The country where the coronavirus outbreak started was almost completely shut down in late January as the government sought to stem the spread of the virus.

Beijing’s dramatic measures appear to have brought the virus under control, though. The number of locally transmitted infections that the country has reported have plummeted, and a lockdown on Wuhan — ground zero of the pandemic — was lifted earlier this month.

— This is a developing story.

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