The United States on Thursday took the grim title of the country with the most coronavirus infections and reported a record surge in unemployment as world leaders vowed $5 trillion to stave off global economic collapse.
More than 500,000 people around the world have now contracted the new coronavirus, overwhelming healthcare systems even in wealthy nations and triggering an avalanche of government-ordered lockdowns that have disrupted life for billions.
In the United States, more than 82,000 people have tested positive for COVID-19, edging out Italy, which has reported the most deaths, and China, where the virus was first detected in December in the metropolis of Wuhan.
With fears mounting of a global recession if not depression, leaders from the Group of 20 major economies held crisis talks by video link Thursday, pledging a "united front" to fight the outbreak -- along with an enormous financial injection.
"The virus respects no borders," the leaders said in a statement.
"We are injecting over $5 trillion into the global economy, as part of targeted fiscal policy, economic measures, and guarantee schemes to counteract the social, economic and financial impacts of the pandemic."
They also pledged "robust" support for developing nations, where coronavirus could next take hold after ravaging China and then Europe.
But the unity pledged by the G20 has been in short supply with China and the United States trading barbs over their handling of the coronavirus crisis.
In the United States, the world's largest economy, the Labor Department reported that 3.3 million people applied for unemployment benefits last week -- by far the highest number ever recorded.
A study from Britain's Imperial College provided a grim prediction, saying 1.8 million people could die worldwide this year even with swift action to halt the virus. Source: AFP