The rapid increase in world-wide cases reflects, in part, how people in many countries were unwittingly transmitting the respiratory virus before governments grasped the scale of the problem.
There were more than 205,000 confirmed cases of the disease known as Covid-19 on Wednesday, with infections outside of mainland China—where the epidemic began—now above 124,000, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
Deaths globally have also more than doubled over the past two weeks to 8,248. In Europe, the death toll reached 3,415, overtaking China for the first time and cementing the continent’s position as the new epicenter of the pandemic.
Italy, the second worst-hit country after China, has seen infections top 31,500 and deaths reach 2,503. Scientists expect the number of fatalities in Italy to overtake those in China within days.
The U.S. plans to close its northern border with Canada to nonessential traffic, President Trump said. The president, who made the announcement on Twitter, said the decision was made by “mutual consent.”
A Canadian official said talks with the U.S. are aimed at targeting nonessential travel like tourism, while allowing trade and commerce to continue between the two countries. Canada on Monday banned most nonresidents from entering the country, although it made an exception for U.S. citizens.
U.S. stocks dropped sharply Wednesday, following declines in international markets. In a tweet, Mr. Trump said he would hold a news conference later in the day to announce “very important news from the FDA about coronavirus.”
The U.S. has more than 6,500 confirmed cases in all 50 states and Washington, D.C., including 115 deaths. Case numbers are expected to grow as testing capabilities expand. U.S. hospitals are already facing a shortage of masks, gowns and other equipment needed to care for patients.
States and local officials took more aggressive measures to promote social distancing in recent days, closing restaurants, bars and nonessential businesses. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said he is weighing whether to require residents to shelter in place, while New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he didn’t intend to impose such a quarantine. Meanwhile, officials in San Francisco and the Bay Area ordered residents to stay home for three weeks, and the city of Hoboken, N.J., imposed a self-isolation policy.
Officials in Chicago, the biggest city within the three states that voted Tuesday, said election-day turnout was low as nervous voters stayed home. Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez called for states with coming primaries and caucuses to use mail-in ballots and other alternatives, after Ohio’s abrupt cancellation of its primary caused confusion.
In an effort to cushion households and businesses amid this economic slowdown, the Trump administration on Tuesday backed a plan to send checks directly to Americans as part of a $1 trillion stimulus package. The Senate is expected to vote Wednesday on a second coronavirus response bill, focused on free virus testing and two weeks of paid emergency leave for people dealing with its effects.
Many economists say it is looking more likely that there will be a global recession. Deutsche Bank AG said gross domestic product could shrink 24% in the eurozone and 13% in the U.S. in the second quarter on an annual, seasonally adjusted basis—declines that would be the biggest in recorded history.