Coronavirus Updates: China Raises Wuhan Death Toll by 50 Percent


China revises its figures in Wuhan, adding 50 percent more deaths.

Faced with mounting skepticism over its official figures, China on Friday revised upward its death toll in the city where the coronavirus first emerged.

Officials placed the new tally at 3,869 deaths from the coronavirus in the central Chinese city of Wuhan, an increase of 1,290, or 50 percent, from the previous figure. The number of confirmed infections in the city was also revised upward to 50,333, an increase of 325.

Officials in Wuhan said the revised death toll included those who died at home in the early days of the outbreak, as well as deaths that had not been properly reported by hospitals or registered on death certificates.

“I think I’m just afraid of the street now,” Lia Cenador, 9, said of her refusal to go out after her mother offered her a chance to breathe some fresh air in Barcelona. “I’ve forgotten what it’s like to be on the streets.”

Singapore announced a record jump in coronavirus cases for the second day in a row on Thursday, with most of the 728 new infections coming from crowded dormitories for migrant laborers.

The coronavirus outbreak has brought China’s extraordinary, nearly half-century-long run of growth to an end — a stark reminder of the enormous task ahead for world leaders trying to restart the global economy.

China’s National Bureau of Statistics said on Friday that the country’s economic output shrank 6.8 percent from January through March compared with the same period last year. It is the first economic shrinkage acknowledged in official statistics since 1976, when the country was in the final days of the Cultural Revolution, a national spasm of urban violence and torture.

The numbers reflect China’s dramatic efforts to stamp out the coronavirus, which included shutting down most factories and offices in January and February as the outbreak sickened tens of thousands of people.

China is now trying to restart its vast, $14 trillion economy, an effort that could give the rest of the world a much-needed shot in the arm. But the spread of the virus to Europe and the United States has sharply cut the world’s appetite for China’s goods. That could lead to factory shutdowns and worker furloughs.

China’s National Bureau of Statistics confirmed last month that domestic industrial production, retail sales and investment all suffered record double-digit drops in the first two months of this year compared with the same period of 2019.

“This year is difficult — some have lost their jobs, some cannot find work to do,” said Liu Xia, a fruit vendor from a village on the outskirts of Beijing. “Those who do go to work and those who are still in business are greatly affected.”

Beijing’s options for dealing with the crisis are limited. Its economy has become too big and complex to easily restart as it did in 2008 when it unveiled a plan to spend more than half a trillion dollars. And years of easy lending have left local governments and state-run companies mired in debt.

The latest fake cure for the coronavirus making the rounds: drinking Cognac. This week, Mike Mbuvi Sonko, the governor of Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, included small bottles of the alcoholic drink as part of care packages delivered to the city’s poor.

Mr. Sonko, who is known for his flamboyant lifestyle and was arrested last year over a multimillion-dollar corruption scandal, falsely argued that research by the World Health Organization had shown that alcohol played a “very major role” in killing the coronavirus.

Cognac, which he said would be distributed only to adults, “should act as a throat sanitizer. It kills the virus,” he said in a video while wearing sunglasses, a mask, a cap and a shield.

The local operation of Hennessy, the French Cognac distiller, rebutted Mr. Sonko’s claim in a statement, saying that its alcoholic beverages do not protect against the virus. The company urged people to wash their hands, practice social distancing and stay at home.

As with other regions, myths and fake news about the virus and how to fight it have been circulating across Africa, with many shared widely through social media and applications like WhatsApp. The purported treatments have included drinking black tea with no sugar in Kenya, shaving beards in Nigeria and boiling and drinking aidan fruits in Ghana. The authorities in Burundi have cited divine intervention to explain the delayed arrival of the virus in the continent. In Tanzania, President John Magufuli has declined to close churches during the pandemic, saying that the coronavirus “cannot survive in the body of Christ; it will burn.”

As of Thursday, there were 17,247 cases and 910 deaths from the coronavirus across Africa, according to the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

President Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil fired his health minister on Thursday after a disagreement over how tough lockdown measures should be.

Mr. Bolsonaro had repeatedly butted heads with the minister, Luiz Henrique Mandetta, who pushed for strict social isolation guidelines to slow the spread of the coronavirus in Brazil, Latin America’s largest nation.

Mr. Bolsonaro, who has played down the gravity of the pandemic, favors keeping older people at home while allowing younger Brazilians to continue to work and move around with relative ease. He has warned that severe restrictions could mean widespread job losses.

Mr. Bolsonaro and Mr. Mandetta also sparred over a malaria drug that is being studied as a treatment for some coronavirus patients. Mr. Bolsonaro has portrayed the drug as a reliable cure, but Mr. Mandetta has been far more cautious.

Their disagreements, which played out publicly in recent weeks, left Brazilians with conflicting messages from the federal government.

Most governors have sided with Mr. Mandetta. Starting in mid-March, they ordered business shutdowns, curtailed public transportation and urged people to stay at home to as much as possible. Those measures have also put Brazil on track to shed millions of jobs and enter into a deep recession.

“The medicine to treat the patient cannot have collateral effects that are more severe than the illness,” Mr. Bolsonaro said.

Ian Bremmer, the president of Eurasia Group, a political risk consultancy, called Mr. Mandetta’s dismissal an “incredibly irresponsible decision” and speculated that it was driven by the minister’s growing popularity as he publicly confronted his boss. “The president’s ego couldn’t handle it,” Mr. Bremmer wrote on Twitter.

Mr. Bolsonaro appointed a Rio de Janeiro oncologist, Nelson Teich, to head the health ministry. Appearing alongside Mr. Bolsonaro, the new minister said: “Health and the economy don’t compete against each other — they are complementary. Here everything will be handled in a technical and scientific way.”

Just as tensions are rising between President Trump and the United Nations over his suspension of funding to the World Health Organization for its handling of the coronavirus crisis, his administration is under criticism from another corner of the U.N.’s network of agencies disliked by the administration, the Human Rights Council.

Philip Alston, the U.N.’s special rapporteur for extreme poverty and human rights, said Thursday that the United States’ coronavirus response had neglected the most disadvantaged in the world’s richest country.

“Low-income and poor people face far higher risks from the coronavirus due to chronic neglect and discrimination, and a muddled, corporate-driven, federal response has failed them,” Mr. Alston said.

In a statement that reflected what other advocates for poor and minority populations in the United States have been saying, Mr. Alston argued that the coronavirus has especially victimized people with the weakest safety net.

“People in poverty are disproportionately threatened by the coronavirus,” Mr. Alston said. “They are more likely to work in jobs with a high risk of exposure, live in crowded and insecure housing, reside in neighborhoods that are more vulnerable because of air pollution, and lack access to health care.”

There was no immediate Trump administration response to the statement by Mr. Alston, a New York University professor who has aroused its anger before. He was the author of a 2017 study of endemic poverty in the United States, and has criticized what he has called the administration’s “contempt for the poor.” Mr. Alston also angered the Conservative-led government in Britain two years ago with a report that concluded its austerity measures had inflicted deep pain on the working poor there.

Mr. Trump withdrew the United States from the Human Rights Council in 2018 over what the American ambassador to the United Nations at the time, Nikki R. Haley, called the council’s brazen bias against Israel and failure to hold rights abusing members to account.

Reporting was contributed by Melissa Eddy, Ceylan Yeginsu, David Halbfinger, Abdi Latif Dahir, Elian Peltier, Megan Specia, Yonette Joseph, Daniel Victor, Amy Qin, Paul Mozur, Rick Gladstone, David Halbfinger, Elaine Yu, Keith Bradsher, Kate Taylor and Ernesto Londoño.





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