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There Are Now More Than Half A Million Coronavirus Cases Worldwide

The number of people infected with coronavirus has reached 500,000 as economies around the world reel from the impact of widespread lockdowns.

Italy has shut down most of its industry, and a record-shattering 3.3 million Americans have applied for unemployment benefits in a single week.

In India, where the country's 1.3 billion people were under orders to stay home, legions of poor were suddenly thrown out of work, and many families were left struggling for something to eat.

The Indian government announced a 1.7 trillion rupee ($A37 billion) economic stimulus package that will deliver monthly rations of grain and lentils to a staggering 800 million people.

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India Orders Strict Lockdown Of 1.3 Billion Citizens For 21 Days

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has ordered a 21-day lockdown of the country's 1.3 billion people to try to protect the world's second-most populous country from the coronavirus.

Around the globe, the death toll stood at nearly 8,200 in Italy, more than 4,100 in Spain and greater than 1,000 in the US.

New York State, the worst hotspot in the nation, accounted for about 400 of the US deaths.

Most of those were in New York City, where hospitals have been swamped with patients.

From New York's Fifth Avenue to London's Piccadilly Circus, restaurants, hotels, airlines, giant chains and small shops are all shuttered, as cities, states and entire countries have ordered the closing of non-essential businesses and instructed people to stay home.

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What Australia Can Learn From Italy's Coronavirus Crisis

An Italian-Australian health policy expert is begging Aussies to sacrifice temporary happiness for the greater good, pointing to his home country's escalating coronavirus crisis as a warning.

In Europe, companies are laying off workers at the fastest pace since 2009, according to surveys of business managers.

The US is bleeding jobs as well. The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits last week was nearly five times the old record, set in 1982.

Meanwhile, the British government unveiled another relief effort, this time aimed at the gig economy, many of whose workers are facing financial ruin.

South Africa, with the most industrialised economy in Africa, headed into a three-week lockdown starting on Friday.

The country is already in recession, with an unemployment rate of 29 per cent.

Woman prays outside the balcony for the pandemic of Coronavirus Covid-19. Image: AAP

Italy, the eurozone's third-biggest economy and a major exporter of machinery, textiles and other goods, became perhaps the first Western developed nation to idle most of its industry, extending a shutdown on smaller, non-essential businesses to heavy manufacturers.

The companies in Italy that have shut down or rolled back production include Fiat Chrysler, Ferrari, Pirelli tires and Luxottica eyewear, maker of Ray-Bans and Oakleys.