A homeless man in central Rome. Photo: AFP. Sketched by the Pan Pacific Agency.

HONG KONG, Mar 25, 2020, SCMP. India’s billion-plus population went into a three-week lockdown on Wednesday, with a third of the world now under orders to stay indoors, as US politicians agreed to spend US$2 trillion to counter the economic damage of the coronavirus pandemic, South China Morning Post reported.

In France scientific experts advising the government on the outbreak say a lockdown imposed on March 17 should last at least six weeks in total, while US President Donald Trump said he wants to loosen the coronavirus lockdown in the United States and restart the economy within three weeks.

That was out of step with a World Health Organisation (WHO) warning that the Covid-19 outbreak in the United States has the potential to exceed that in Europe and become the new epicentre of the pandemic.

The Pentagon is assuming the coronavirus epidemic in the United States will last at least several months, it’s top officials warning that some countries are at risk of “political chaos”.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has called for a “wartime” response package to the coronavirus pandemic from the G20 group of leading economic powers, who will hold a virtual meeting on Thursday.

India ordered it’s 1.3 billion people – the world’s second-biggest population – to stay at home for three weeks. That doubled the number of people around the globe under some form of movement restriction to more than 2.6 billion people.

Hubei, where the novel coronavirus was first detected late last year, will allow healthy residents to leave the province. Officials say rules will be relaxed in the hardest-hit city of Wuhan on April 8.

Almost 18,000 deaths have been recorded since the virus first emerged in December. More than 385,000 declared cases have been registered in 175 countries and territories.

Mainland China reported a drop in new confirmed cases, all of which involved travellers arriving from abroad, the National Health Commission said on Wednesday. The number of new cases fell to 47 on Tuesday from 78 a day earlier, according to the health authority.

That brings the total accumulated number of confirmed cases in mainland China to 81,218.

The death toll from the outbreak in mainland China reached 3,281 as of the end of Tuesday, up by four from the previous day.

Hong Kong meanwhile has struggled to contain a disturbing surge in cases that has taken the tally to 386. Some had a recent history of travel.

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