LONDON/BEIJING (Reuters) – The world’s richest nations poured unprecedented aid into the global economy on Thursday as coronavirus cases ballooned in the new epicentre Europe, with the number of deaths in Italy outstripping those in mainland China where the virus originated. With almost 228,000 infections and more than 9,200 deaths, the epidemic has stunned the world and drawn comparisons with painful periods such as World War Two, the 2008 financial crisis and the 1918 Spanish flu. U.N. chief Antonio Guterres warned that a global recession, “perhaps of record dimensions”, was a near certainty.

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