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.
The move appeared to be a response to growing questions about the accuracy of China’s official numbers and calls to hold the country responsible for what has become a global health crisis. Dominic Raab, Britain’s foreign secretary, told Reuters on Thursday that China would have to answer “hard questions” after the crisis about how the pandemic came about and how it could have been stopped earlier. President Emmanuel Macron of France told the Financial Times that “there are clearly things that have happened that we don’t know about.”
The C.I.A. has also told the White House that China’s official figures are vastly understated, though it does not know the exact numbers, current and former American intelligence officials say.
Widespread reporting has shown that the Chinese authorities initially mismanaged and concealed the extent of the epidemic before eventually swinging into action in late January to halt the spread of the virus. Beijing maintains that it has been transparent in its communications about the epidemic from the beginning.
Most children in Spain haven’t been outside in five weeks. Unlike in France, Britain and even Italy, children are forbidden to even take a short walk on the street or exercise near their homes.
Such confinement measures, the most stringent in Europe, have left parents, health experts and politicians alarmed over the potentially devastating consequences that the confinement will have on children’s physical and mental health.
“If adults can go for a walk with a dog, and now some nonessential economic activities are resuming, why do our boys and girls have to keep waiting?” Barcelona’s mayor, Ada Colau, wrote on Facebook, urging the authorities to “free our children.”
Calls to ease the lockdown for children have intensified in recent days, and the Madrid region may allow children under 14 to go out for an hour once a day by the end of the month.
Confinement can lead to eating and sleeping disorders, depression and aggressive conduct, among other troubles, child experts say, all of which can have a critical impact on a young person’s development. The ban on going outside has been worse for children who live in cramped apartments without a balcony or outdoor space.
Parents have reported that their children have lost interest in activities, cried a lot or become apathetic, and some in Spain who have tried to take their children out for a short walk said the young ones have refused.
“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.”
Simon Coveney, the country’s foreign minister, said that Ireland “strongly supports” the organization’s effort to lead the global response to the coronavirus and would contribute 9.5 million euros, about $10.2 million, this year toward that mission.
“So many countries rely on United Nations expertise and capacity to save lives,” he wrote on Twitter.
Mr. Trump said on Wednesday that the United States would freeze funding to the health organization while his administration reviewed its handling of the crisis, accusing it of promoting disinformation about the scale of the disease’s threat.
Critics say the Trump administration was slow to take the pandemic seriously and lagged on facilitating wide-scale testing to help fight the outbreak.
The United States is the largest funder to the W.H.O., and last year contributed about $553 million of the agency’s $6 billion budget.
The decision to suspend funding provoked criticism from other countries, with officials warning that pulling support from an already underfunded agency could have severe consequences. And nations declared their continued support.
Britain also said it would continue to fund the organization, which it says has an important role in the response to the outbreak. “It is a global challenge, and it’s essential that countries work together to tackle this shared threat,” a Downing Street spokesman said on Wednesday.
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 rise was a stark demonstration of the risks faced by low-wage migrants who have built the modern city-state, bringing focus to their poor living conditions. More than 1,050 cases were linked to the residences on Wednesday and Thursday, leading the government to promise changes in how the migrants, many from India and Bangladesh, are treated.
While Singapore has been praised for its rigorous contact-tracing program, which quickly identified clusters of local transmissions, the coronavirus spread rapidly through dormitories for foreign laborers, where up to 20 people are crammed in each room with shared kitchens and bathrooms.
The health ministry said on Thursday that the surge in newly identified cases was in line with its “continued efforts to actively test and isolate the infected workers.”
After weeks of low transmission numbers, Singapore began recording a rapid rise in cases in March, as travelers from Europe and the United States brought the virus with them. By Thursday, the health ministry said it had not registered any imported cases for a week.
Israel is readying a “pilot program” to ease back into normal life, beginning with the “controlled and measured” reopening of businesses in certain sectors, but officials still need to hash out details, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said.
With more than a million Israelis idle — the unemployment rate is 26 percent — Mr. Netanyahu said the finance ministry was mapping out a plan to allow select businesses to resume operations and would bring it to his cabinet for approval on Saturday night.
Some special-education students will also be able to restart private lessons, and people will be permitted to exercise within a 500-meter radius of their homes. Until now, Israelis had been constrained to 100 meters from their front doors.
The announcement came hours after about 1,000 people protested on Thursday night in Tel Aviv against Mr. Netanyahu, the indicted head of a caretaker right-wing government. The demonstration prompted Mr. Netanyahu’s son Yair to write on Twitter that he hoped that “the elderly people who die following this protest” were left-wingers. He later deleted the post.
Separately, Muslim officials said that Al-Aqsa mosque would remain closed throughout Ramadan, the monthlong holiday that begins on April 23.
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.
Our correspondent Paul Mozur, who was expelled from China, wrote about the joys, anxieties and complexities of covering the vast nation.
Once again, we were being followed.
The police officer broke up our interview with a construction worker. Then he scared off a shop worker who was opening up about the city’s strict lockdown.
Finally he went undercover. He pulled off his police jacket and skulked behind us through a mall in a black long-sleeved shirt.
As a tail, he was cartoonishly obvious. But it didn’t matter. Each time my colleague and I tried to talk to someone, he found a way to scare the person off. For all the anti-foreign propaganda, intimidation and censorship in China, regular people are often willing to share their experiences. The man was there to make sure they didn’t.
We had come to Hefei, a middle-class city in central China, to chronicle the country’s emergence from its devastating battle against the coronavirus.
Hefei, we thought, would give us stories of joy and relief, as well as of the anxieties and wrinkles of returning to everyday life.
Our undercover friend told us a different story. He showed us, once again, how the authorities stop at nothing to control the narrative coming out of China. His creeping presence was also a painful reminder that this trip would be my last in China for a while. At the end of the week, I had to leave the country, a part of an expulsion of the majority of reporters for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post.
The police officer blocked a tale of renewal. Signs of life in Hefei were everywhere.
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.”
As of Tuesday afternoon, Brazil had recorded 1,924 coronavirus deaths and more than 30,400 diagnosed cases.
President Trump on Thursday released a set of nonbinding guidelines for the states that established a phased strategy for when and how to reopen their economies, backing away from a threat to dictate when states should begin to lift restrictions. Mr. Trump said that some states would be ready to reopen by May 1 or much earlier; some, he said, could be in position to lift restrictions by Friday. But he acknowledged that states hit much harder by the virus, like New York and New Jersey, would have to wait much longer.
Protesters in several states have held rallies urging their governors to loosen restrictions on commerce and daily life. They were largely spurred by talk radio and conservative social media.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is in discussions to divert 25,000 Census Bureau workers to do contact tracing for perhaps two months. Massachusetts is the first state to make a major investment in contact tracing, with a plan to hire 1,000 people.
The House of Representatives is considering allowing members to cast votes by proxy for the first time in its history.
Twenty-two million Americans have filed for unemployment in the last four weeks. That means the pandemic has eliminated roughly the net number of jobs that were created in the nine and a half years since the last recession.
A federal loan program intended to help small businesses keep workers on its payrolls said on Thursday that it had run out of money. Talks in Congress about how to replenish the program have broken down over Democrats’ insistence on making changes to make the program more equitable and on adding money for hospitals and local and state governments.
A tiny hospital in Indiana has struggled to treat a surge of coronavirus patients. Its experience points to the challenges other rural hospitals will likely face in the coming weeks and months.
U.N. human rights investigator says Trump’s neglect of nation’s poor puts them at risk from the virus.
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.