First patients of COVID-19 start to be taken in the new intensive care unit in Milan, Italy. File/AP
Lockdowns aimed at halting the march of the coronavirus pandemic have extended worldwide as the US outbreak continued to accelerate with the death toll there passing 3,000.
Despite slivers of hope in stricken Italy, tough measures that have confined two-fifths of the globe's population to their homes are being broadened.
Moscow and Lagos joined the roll call of cities around the world with empty streets, while Virginia and Maryland became the latest US states to announce stay-at-home orders, followed quickly by Washington DC.
A US military medical ship steamed into New York, where it will relieve pressure on the city's badly stretched health system. A field hospital set up in Central Park was due to go online later Tuesday.
World leaders — several of whom have been stricken or forced into isolation — are still grappling for ways to deal with a crisis that is generating economic and social shockwaves unseen since the Second World War.
Putin's government was getting to grips with its own outbreak, with the Russian strongman urging residents of Moscow to respect a lockdown that has closed all non-essential shops, and left Red Square deserted.
Anna, a 36-year-old web designer, said the lockdown would be hard for her and her five-year-old daughter. "But I don't want Arina to get sick," she told AFP on her way to buy bread. "So of course we will observe the quarantine."
After weeks of a national lockdown in Italy, signs were emerging that drastic action could be slowing the spread of the disease.
Even though the country's death toll grew by 812 in 24 hours to 11,591, the number of infections climbed just 4.1 per cent.
"The data are better but our work continues," said Giulio Gallera, the chief medical officer of Lombardy, Italy's worst-hit region.
Spain announced another 812 virus deaths in 24 hours, taking it past China, where the disease first emerged in December.
Even with the US health system stretched, Trump said he was ordering some excess medical equipment be sent to Italy, France and Spain.The shutdown has already put millions out of work and forced governments to rush through huge stimulus plans.
Experts in Germany, Europe's economic powerhouse, said the virus would shrink output there this year by up to 5.4 per cent.
The World Bank warned the economic fallout from the pandemic could cause Chinese growth to shudder to a halt, and thrust millions of East Asians into poverty.
The US has led the world in the number of infections since the end of March. With more than a third of all officially declared cases globally, it threatens to overtake Europe, which has recorded more than 850,000 cases.
Global deaths stand at over 434,000 and have doubled in seven weeks. Although Brazil's official death toll from the pandemic has risen to nearly 44,000, the true impact is likely far greater than the data show, health experts said, citing a lack of widespread testing in Latin America's largest country.
With billions of people around the world still suffering from the fallout of the crisis, a worldwide race for a vaccine is underway, with nine companies already in late-stage Phase 3 trials.
With a total of 75,011 deaths from 909,673 infections, Europe is the hardest-hit continent in the COVID-19 pandemic, which has killed at least 109,133 people worldwide. Europe's most affected country is Italy with 19,468 deaths, followed by Spain with 16,972, France with 13,832 and Britain with 9,875.
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