Food prices are soaring more than 20% in China amid the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, according to government statistics released Monday.

China’s consumer price index (CPI) spiked 5.4% compared to this time last year, the country’s state-run media organization Xinhua reported, citing National Bureau of Statistics data released Monday. The CPI is the main barometer for inflation levels.
 

Food prices climbed more than 20% compared to this time last year — up more than 17% from December, according to Xinhua. Pork prices rose a staggering 116% compared to last year, and vegetable prices more than 17%.

Many attribute to soaring pork costs also in part to the outbreak of an African swine fever in China that disrupted the pork industry in 2019.

A Carrefour supermarket in Shanghai was fined last week by city regulators for price gouging, after its lettuce surged to nearly eight times its regular prices amid the outbreak, the Wall Street Journal reported.

The rising food costs in China come as its National Health Commission said Monday that the number of confirmed coronavirus cases is more than 40,000, and the number of deaths from the disease in mainland China is more than 900.

At least 307 additional people in 24 other countries have also contracted the virus, according to the World Health Organization.

The outbreak has also brought much economic activity in the nation to a standstill, and put the city of Wuhan, the epicenter of the virus with more than 11 million residents, on lockdown.

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