China’s communist government reported early Friday morning that an additional 5,090 people have been infected with the coronavirus and an additional 121 people have died.
“The number of reported cases has been rising more quickly after the hardest-hit province changed its method of counting them Thursday. There are now 63,851 confirmed cases in mainland China, of which 1,380 have died,” The Associated Press reported. “Hubei province is now including cases based on a physician’s diagnosis and before they have been confirmed by lab tests. Of the 5,090 new cases, 3,095 fell into that category.”
Worldwide, there have been more than 64,000 cases reported and over 1,400 deaths from the coronavirus.
The news comes as China continues to expand its dragnet over larger and larger areas where the communist party is on a “wartime” campaign to round up everyone who may be infected with the virus.
“In their zeal to execute the edict, officials in Wuhan, a metropolis of 11 million, have haphazardly seized patients who have not yet tested positive for the coronavirus, in some cases herding them onto buses with no protective measures where they risked infection from others,” The New York Times reported. “After that, patients have been sent to makeshift medical facilities that don’t provide the support they need to recover. With little to no dedicated medical staff on hand to help, some patients die.”
The number of people infected with the virus is so high that China has had to convert stadiums, exhibition centers, hotels, schools, and other facilities into makeshift hospitals.
The Washington Post reported that the economic fallout from the epidemic shows no signs of slowing down and is “expected to linger for months even if the flulike illness is soon brought under control, economists and supply chain experts say.”
“The Chinese epidemic’s aftereffects will probably cause the global economy to shrink this quarter for the first time since the depths of the 2009 financial crisis, according to Capital Economics in London,” The Post reported. “Chinese factories had been scheduled to reopen Feb. 10, after a Lunar New Year holiday that had been extended for several days because of the medical scare.”
Mohamed El-Erian, chief economic adviser at Allianz, a German financial services company, told The Post, “I worry that it’s going to be a bigger deal than most economists are treating it as right now. It will take time to restart all these economic engines.”
The outbreak could increase pressure on U.S. officials to confront a separate but somewhat related issue: the fact that China controls a significant portion of the manufacturing of pharmaceuticals.
The Hill reported:
As recently as the 1990s, the U.S., Europe and Japan manufactured 90 percent of the global supply of key ingredients for the world’s medicines and vitamins. China now has become the largest global supplier of active ingredients and chemical building blocks needed to make many prescription drugs and over-the-counter products.
Millions of Americans ingest drugs made in China — and they likely don’t know it. Hundreds of thousands of physicians prescribe them; the medicines may be packaged to look like all-American products, but they are not.
Reps. Anna Eshoo (D-CA) and Adam Schiff (D-CA) wrote in an op-ed last year that the trade war could provoke China into using the leverage that it has in pharmaceutical as a way of creating pressure on the U.S.
“We should not be held hostage by any foreign country,” Eshoo told NBC News. “We need to move away from any country having a monopoly on the ingredients that we depend upon our antibiotics — anthrax [vaccine], penicillin, high blood pressure drugs.”
This report has been updated to include additional information.