The 40 million people in California were locked into a U.S. state's most drastic quarantine efforts to curb the rapidly spreading coronavirus on Friday as the global population grew and Italy outperformed China as the country with the most pandemic deaths.
The United States has been rapidly chasing anti-malarial drugs for use as a virus treatment, President Donald Trump said when he attacked China for not informing the world about the initial outbreak earlier.
China has reported a second day with no new domestic cases since the virus hit downtown Wuhan in December before spreading worldwide.
While there was a glimmer of hope in China, more countries tightened their borders and imposed barriers when the UN chief warned that "millions" could die if the virus spreaded unchecked around the world.
The number of deaths rose sharply in Europe when Italy announced another 427 deaths on Thursday, for a total of 3,405. This emerges from a balance sheet compiled by AFP from official sources.
China has officially reported 3,248 deaths from the virus that can lead to respiratory failure, especially in the elderly.
AFP reports that the number of deaths from the virus has risen to almost 10,000 worldwide, with more than 232,000 cases in 158 countries and territories.
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres warned on Thursday of the potentially devastating effects of the virus.
"If we spread the virus like wildfire – especially in the most vulnerable regions of the world – it would kill millions of people," said Guterres.
"Pay a high price"
The number of infections and deaths in the rest of the world has surpassed that in China, where the virus appears to have been under severe control since January, including full quarantine from Wuhan.
Donald Trump, who came under fire because of his response to the crisis, said Thursday that the world is paying for China's lack of transparency about the outbreak.
"It could have been in the one area of China where it started. And the world is certainly paying a high price for what they did," he said.
Donald Trump said the U.S. authorities have tracked down the antimalarial agents chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine for use as coronavirus treatment and made them available "almost immediately".
The drugs are synthetic forms of quinine, which has been used to treat malaria for centuries.
As the number rose in Italy, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said the national lock, which was copied across Europe, would be extended beyond April 3rd.
France has also considered extending President Emmanuel Macron's two-week curfew this week when the Home Secretary beat up "idiots" who violate house arrest rules and put others at risk.
In Argentina, President Alberto Fernandez announced a "preventive and mandatory" ban from Friday to March 31, while the Brazilian state of Rio de Janeiro will close its famous beaches, restaurants and bars for 15 days to curb the pandemic.
California Governor Gavin Newsom said the blockade of the state, which affects more than 39 million people, will begin "recognizing our interdependency" on Thursday evening.
In Britain, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the country could "turn the tide" against the coronavirus within 12 weeks – but only if people followed the advice to avoid social contact.
The disease continued to hit high-profile personalities, including EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier, Monaco’s Prince Albert II, and at least half a dozen NBA players in the US who tested positive.
And when the Olympic flame arrived in Japan on Friday for a muted reception, the organizers of the Tokyo Games were again asked to postpone the event.
"It should be postponed in the current circumstances where athletes are not well prepared," said Kaori Yamaguchi, member of the Japanese Olympic Committee, to the Nikkei Daily in an interview released on the day of the flame's landing.
Given the countries paralyzed by the pandemic and imploding stock markets, policymakers have triggered a wave of measures to support the global economy this week.
The European Central Bank announced a € 750 billion bond purchase program known as the "big bazooka".
In the United States, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin urged Congress to adopt a $ 1 trillion emergency stimulus package.
Asian stocks saw some much-needed gains on Friday after Wall Street closed higher after a volatile session as investors weighed government stimulus measures against some of the first data indicating a sharp slowdown in the US economy.
European stocks also recovered in the economic news.
The fight is just beginning in the rest of the world, and the shadow of the virus is increasing across Africa.
The Nigerian megacity Lagos announced that it would close its schools, while Burkina Faso confirmed the first death in sub-Saharan Africa.
Russia reported its first death and even the Pacific nation of Fiji said it had its first case.
Countries are taking increasingly drastic steps to contain infections. Australia and New Zealand prohibit the entry of non-residents.
The United States warned of international travel due to the pandemic and advised citizens to come home if possible.
Britain closed dozens of London underground stations and closed schools.
The EU has closed its borders to outsiders and in many countries bars, restaurants and most shops have closed their doors until further notice.
Spain, which is almost completely closed, ordered Thursday that all hotels be closed immediately.
Spain has postponed formal funerals and guards for coronavirus victims in the worst affected areas of Madrid and Barcelona.
Elena Guijarro, a 25-year-old physiotherapist from the capital, had to bury her father while her mother and brother still had the virus in the hospital.
"My 60-year-old father died of a corona virus yesterday," she told AFP. "We bury him today … (but) we must not keep a vigil.