The number of cases of those infected by the coronavirus in China exploded on Thursday as nearly 15,000 new cases and 242 new deaths from the virus were reported after health officials broadened the types of cases that they includes in their count.
The 14,840 new cases in the Hubei province was by far the largest single day spike of new cases as was the additional 242 people who were killed by it.
“Chinese officials previously only counted cases confirmed by nucleic acid tests, which critics said were faulty and greatly underestimated the true magnitude of the epidemic,” The Washington Post reported. “For weeks, Chinese doctors and patients have complained about a lack of nucleic acid testing kits and their accuracy. The dramatic jump in cases in Hubei essentially confirms longtime suspicions that China was for weeks vastly undercounting cases of the virus.”
The Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday that the outbreak will negatively impact the U.S. economy.
“The monthly survey of economists found 83% of economists expected the coronavirus outbreak will have a small impact on U.S. gross domestic product growth from January to March, or less than 0.5 percentage point,” The Journal reported. “Just 5% of forecasters expected a significant reduction of more than 0.5 percentage point off the quarter’s annual growth rate, while 10% expected no impact.”
Constance Hunter, chief economist at KPMG, told The Journal, “The negative demand shock from coronavirus is significant. China’s GDP will be impacted significantly and this will show up in everything from commodity prices to demand for global goods and services.”
Gregory Daco, an economist at Oxford Economics, told The Journal, “The drag on the economy from the halt to production will average 0.5 percentage point in the first quarter, and the hit to the economy in 2020 will depend on how quickly production resumes. Assuming a slow resumption, the Boeing travails will reduce GDP growth by 0.1 percentage point in 2020.”
The New York Times reported that trust in China’s communist government is deteriorating as the public is highly skeptical anytime the communist government releases new figures.
“The situation that we’ve seen is much worse than what has been officially reported,” Long Jian, 32, told The New York Times. “Those who can get diagnosed and treated are the lucky ones. In our neighborhood, many who weren’t able to get diagnosed ended up dying at home.”
“The shifting case counts are not the only example of conflicting or spotty information,” the Times reported. “Researchers have given differing estimates on when the outbreak might peak, ranging from a date already past to several months in the future. The Chinese authorities have closely guarded the demographic details about the fatalities, creating uncertainty about who is most susceptible.”
Earlier this week, World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who goes by his first name, warned that officials may only be seeing “the tip of the iceberg.”
“As I told media yesterday, #2019nCoV spread outside #China appears to be slow now, but could accelerate. Containment remains our objective, but all countries must use the window of opportunity created by the containment strategy to prepare for the virus’s possible arrival,” Tedros said. “There’ve been some concerning instances of onward #2019nCoV spread from people with no travel history to 🇨🇳. The detection of a small number of cases may indicate more widespread transmission in other countries; in short, we may only be seeing the tip of the iceberg.”
There’ve been some concerning instances of onward #2019nCoV spread from people with no travel history to 🇨🇳. The detection of a small number of cases may indicate more widespread transmission in other countries; in short, we may only be seeing the tip of the iceberg.
— Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus (@DrTedros) February 9, 2020
Newsweek reported last week that “a study published in the medical journal The Lancet estimated that the number of coronavirus infections could be more than four times higher than the number given by Chinese authorities.”
“It said its ‘baseline scenario’ put the figure in the city of Wuhan at 75,815 as of January 25,” Newsweek continued. “The Lancet report also projected the “epidemics are already growing exponentially in multiple major cities of China with a lag time behind the Wuhan outbreak of about 1–2 weeks.”
This report has been updated to include additional information.