The number of cases of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 rose to 2.2 million on Friday and the death toll topped 150,000, as China raised the official number of deaths in Wuhan, the city that first reported the illness late last year, and its GDP fell by 6.8% to mark the first economic contraction on record.
China has been tracking the growth of its economy since 1992 and had never before had a negative number. The result was still better than the median forecast for an 8.3% contraction in a poll of economists by the Wall Street Journal.
Other Chinese data, while weak, showed sharp improvement in March from January and February, when restrictions on movement and economic activity were introduced. Retail sales for March fell 15.8%, and industrial production fell 1.1%. But retail sales were down 20.5% in the January-February period, and manufacturing surveys have also shown a rebound in March.
Chinese authorities revised the death toll from Wuhan higher by 50% on Friday, to 3,869 from 2,579, as the Guardian reported. The new number comes after experts questioned whether China was understating its tallies and compared them with other smaller countries that have had far higher numbers.
The number of cases of COVID-19 globally climbed to 2.2 million on Friday with 150,948 fatalities, according to data aggregated by Johns Hopkins University. The U.S. has the most cases at 683,786 and 34,575 fatalities, and New York remains the U.S. epicenter.
New York counted another 630 deaths on Thursday, up from 606 on Wednesday. The Empire State has had more than 223,000 positive cases of the illness and more than 14,800 deaths.
Spain has the most cases in Europe at 188,093 and 19,613 deaths, while Italy has 172,434 cases and 22,745 deaths. France has 147,121 cases and 18,703 fatalities, and Germany has 139,041 cases and 4,193 deaths.
The U.K. has 109,769 cases and 14,607 deaths. China has reported 83,760 and 4,636 deaths.
President Donald Trump unveiled guidelines for states to reopen after lockdowns, although the administration stopped short of suggesting a time frame. The guidelines offer a series of six metrics that states should satisfy before allowing people to return to work, including a decline in any flulike illnesses over a 14-day period and a clear downward trajectory of COVID-like cases.
The guidelines represent a noteworthy departure from a position the president took earlier in the week, when he suggested a May 1 date for when many states could lift restrictions. He also claimed to have “absolute authority” in determining when restrictions would be eased, despite it being largely governors who instituted the coronavirus restrictions that are in effect. The president has little constitutional power to force state governments to change laws and regulations regarding public health, constitutional experts say.