President Donald Trump speaks to the media in Washington. File photo
The United States and Britain led a multi-billion-dollar global fightback against economic havoc wreaked by the coronavirus as the European Union shut its borders to travellers from outside for 30 days to stem the pandemic's ferocious spread.
The sweeping measures, never before seen in peacetime, have upended society worldwide and roiled financial markets on fears of a global recession.
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The coronavirus outbreak, which first emerged in China late last year, has quickly marched across the globe, infecting nearly 200,000 people and killing 7,900 as governments scramble to contain it.
Following criticism that they were mismanaging their crisis response, London and Washington on Tuesday announced massive economic stimulus packages.
President Donald Trump said the White House was discussing a "substantial" spending bill with Congress that would include immediate cash payments to Americans.
Officials did not give hard numbers but “The Washington Post” reported the amount could reach $850 billion, with a chunk destined for airlines fearing ruin.
"We're going big," Trump told reporters.
British Finance Minister Rishi Sunak also unveiled an "unprecedented package" of government-backed loans worth 330 billion pounds ($400 billion) for businesses struggling in the sudden economic paralysis caused by mass self-quarantine.
France has pledged a 45 billion euro ($50 billion) aid package.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel meanwhile confirmed the 30-day "entry ban" into the EU.
European countries were already in near-total internal lockdown, with Belgium starting from Wednesday until at least April 5.
The World Health Organization urged the "boldest actions" on the continent, the pandemic's latest epicentre.
In the United States, restrictions continued to build, with Maryland becoming the latest state to delay presidential election primaries and New York City considering curfews.
Australia urged citizens to not travel abroad, and banned gatherings of more than 100 people.
Asian hotspots China and South Korea have seen new infections and deaths level out in recent weeks — China reported just one new domestic case for the second consecutive day on Wednesday — but numbers are ballooning across Europe.
Africa, with its fragile healthcare systems, has also recorded more than 400 cases, and Latin America has more than 1,100, with the continent's most populated country Brazil confirming its first death on Tuesday.
The overall death toll jumped to more than 5,000, including nearly 1,500 in Europe, with total infections topping 140,000 internationally, according to an AFP tally based on official sources.
The WHO team also concluded the theory of a lab experiment gone wrong was “extremely unlikely,” while introducing new avenues of inquiry, chiming with China’s view that it may have originated overseas or been spread by frozen foods.
In a grim new milestones marking the spread of the virus, total deaths across the United States hit 3,017, including at least 540 on Monday, and the reported cases climbed to more than 163,000, according to a Reuters tally.
The step is aimed at reducing crowding and random parking of vehicles on the roads where traffic accidents occur and prevent traffic jams in accident sites, they said.
The 63-year-old, who considers himself "a Christian, a conservative and a Republican, in that order", will formally launch his campaign with a video, speech and townhall event in the early voting state of Iowa on Wednesday.
"This year also marks the 55th anniversary of the first United Nations Conference on the Exploration and Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (UNISPACE).