COVID-19: Economy Hit as Death Toll Inches Closer to 3,000; Nearly 40,000 Recover

File photo of workers producing medical masks in southwest China's Guizhou Province. Companies have been producing medical supplies at full capacity to support the fight against COVID-19. (Xinhua/Yang Wenbin/IANS)

The death toll due to the deadly new coronavirus disease COVID-19 increased to 2,835 in mainland China on Saturday. Outside China, 88 deaths have been reported so far, taking the overall toll to 2,923.

While the number spread of the virus is slowing down in China, it is gaining pace in the rest of the world. The total number of confirmed cases has now gone up to 89,397, with a sharp rise in the number of cases in countries like South Korea. At least 50 countries have reported confirmed cases of new coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 so far. In China alone, the confirmed cases stood at 79,251 as on Saturday, according to health authorities.

The Chinese National Health Commission said that it received reports of 427 new cases and 47 deaths on Friday, Xinhua news agency reported. Among the deaths, 45 were in Hubei province and one each in Beijing and Henan. The Commission added that 1,418 people were still suspected of being infected with the virus.

The silver lining, however, has been that a total of more than 39,000 people had been discharged from hospital after recovery in China alone. Reports suggest that globally, 39,332 people have recovered from the new coronavirus infection so far.

The maximum number of confirmed cases outside China were reported in South Korea (3,150), Japan (940, including 705 on Diamond Princess), Italy (888) and Iran (388). The deaths outside China were recorded in Iran (34), Italy (21), South Korea (16), Japan (11), Hong Kong (two), France (one), Taiwan (one) and the Philippines (one).

Chinese economy hit

Reported On Coronavirus as on Friday, November 28.
(IANS Infographics)

On Saturday, the first official economic data confirmed fears that the Chinese economy has been badly hit by the coronavirus, with a February plunge in manufacturing activity, reports the South China Morning Post.

The benchmark indicator Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) plummeted to 14.3 points in February, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said on Saturday, worst since official record-keeping began in 2005.

The official manufacturing PMI slowed to 35.7, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said, having slipped to 50.0 in January when the full impact of the coronavirus was not yet evident. This figure is below the 38.8 PMI reported in November 2008 during the global financial crisis. A PMI reading of 50 marks the point between expansion and contraction.

"There was a plunge in demand for consumer industries involving gatherings of people, such as transportation, accommodation, catering, tourism, and resident services," the NBS said. Stock markets across the globe have fallen sharply this week, following the increase in cases outside China.

The World Health Organization (WHO) on Friday upgraded the global risk of the outbreak to its highest level, the BBC reported. But the UN body said there was still a chance of containing the virus if its chain of transmission were broken. WHO head Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus also stressed that fear and misinformation were the most significant challenges to overcome.

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