California has issued a "stay at home" order to residents as it tries to stem the march of the coronavirus across the most populous US state, reports BBC.
Governor Gavin Newsom told Californians they should only leave their homes when necessary during the pandemic.
He earlier estimated more than half of the 40 million people in his state would contract Covid-19 in just the next two months.
The virus has claimed 205 lives in the US and infected more than 14,000.
Globally nearly 250,000 patients have tested positive for the respiratory illness and more than 10,000 have died.
What does California's order mean?
Mr Newsom said on Thursday evening: "This is a moment we need to make tough decisions. We need to recognise reality."
California is among the first US states to bring in blanket restrictions. Earlier this week Nevada said non-essential businesses should close for 30 days.
The governor's order will allow residents to leave their homes to buy groceries or medicine, or walk a dog or take exercise, but seeks to limit public interactions.
It will force businesses deemed non-essential to close, while allowing others including grocery stores, pharmacies, banks and petrol stations to stay open.
About half of the state's population is already subject to similar stringent measures, including the city of San Francisco.
The Democratic governor said parts of the state were seeing infection rates double every four days.
Speaking at a press conference in Sacramento, Mr Newsom said the virus "will impact about 56% of us - you do the math in the state of California, that's a particularly large number".
The governor did not clarify how his officials had calculated that figure, which would amount to nearly 22.5 million infected people.
But his spokesman acknowledged the estimate did not take into account the mitigation measures being implemented state-wide.
More hospital beds needed
This is the most drastic measure that any US state governor has taken to try to tame the virus - going further even than New York, which has more coronavirus cases than California.
Speaking from the state's emergency operations centre in Sacramento - a place that is normally used to coordinate the response to wildfires or earthquakes - Mr Newsom called on people here to only leave their homes if it was absolutely necessary - to get food, collect medicines, or care for a friend or relative.
He said said that based on projections nearly 20,000 more hospital beds would be needed to deal with the effects of the outbreak than the state could currently provide.
He is asking Congress for a billion dollars in federal funding to support California's response to the crisis, and calling for a navy hospital ship to be deployed to the Port of Los Angeles to help deal with the anticipated surge in patients.
So far, California has recorded fewer than 1,000 cases of the virus and 19 deaths, according to the Los Angeles Times.
On Wednesday Mr Newsom wrote to President Donald Trump appealing for urgent federal help.
On Thursday Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said the Senate needed to pass a $1 trillion economic rescue plan by Monday.
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act would include hundreds of billions of dollars worth of loans to big corporations and small businesses, large corporate tax cuts and $1,200 (£1,000) cheques for taxpayers.
Where are the other US coronavirus 'hot zones'?
A nearly empty baggage claim area at McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas, Nevada
Along with New York and Washington, California is among the US states worst hit by the coronavirus pandemic.
On Thursday alone, New York City's recorded caseload of Covid-19 more than doubled to 3,954 - greater than the confirmed number of coronavirus patients in the whole of the UK.
Mayor Bill de Blasio told CNN the most populous city in the US would run out of medical supplies within three weeks if the "explosion" of infections continued at such a rate.
He implored the federal government to help New York obtain 15,000 ventilators, three million respirator masks, 50 million surgical masks and 45 million gowns, gloves and coveralls.
The mayor said the virus had so far claimed the lives of 26 people in the city.
The US Department of State, meanwhile, on Thursday urged Americans to forgo all foreign travel.
What does the US travel warning say?
In an effort to contain the global coronavirus pandemic, the nation's foreign ministry issued a Level 4 travel advisory - its top-tier warning, usually reserved for nations at war - that said "do not travel".
Only four days ago the department sent out a Level 3 notification recommending that Americans "reconsider travel".
The latest warning said: "If you choose to travel internationally, your travel plans may be severely disrupted, and you may be forced to remain outside of the United States for an indefinite timeframe."
US President Donald Trump said on Thursday his administration was working with the military to bring home hundreds of Americans who have been stranded overseas amid a global shutdown on international travel.
The US travel embargo follows similar measures issued by other countries, including Canada a week ago.
It comes as the White House cancelled this year's meeting of G7 leaders in the US.
What's happening with the G7?
The annual meeting of the world's seven most powerful economic countries was due to be held in June at the Camp David presidential retreat in the US state of Maryland.
But the leaders of the US, Britain, Italy, Japan, Canada, France, Germany and the EU will instead speak via video conference.
White House spokesman Judd Deere said the decision was taken "in order for each country to focus all of its resources on responding to the health and economic challenges of Covid-19".
A series of other high-profile events, from sports tournaments to music festivals, have been cancelled around the world this month because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Many countries in Latin America have taken aggressive measures to deal with the coronavirus such as closing their borders, dock and airports to foreigners, declaring states of emergencies and ordering business shutdowns.
Mexico, by contrast, has so far taken a "business as usual" attitude. People still crowd street markets picking through piles of fruit and vegetables. Cars and trucks continue to fill the streets and commuters throng subway trains, though the volume of traffic is noticeably lower.
President Andrés Manuel López Obrador and his government have said a shutdown of the country would disproportionately hurt poor people and also be a psychological weight on all Mexicans. They say there is no reason to impose major restrictions before health officials deem them necessary — a moment they are expecting in late March, based on the virus' pattern elsewhere and the Feb. 27 date of Mexico's first confirmed case.
The approach is worrying many experts.
But it is the president's personal attitude that has Mexicans puzzled. He continues to attend mass public rallies, shaking hands and kissing babies. Asked how he was protecting Mexico, López Obrador removed two religious amulets from his wallet and proudly showed them off.
"The protective shield is the 'Get thee behind me, Satan,'" López Obrador said, reading off the inscription on the amulet, "Stop, enemy, for the Heart of Jesus is with me."
López Obrador, often described as a leftist, is in fact a nationalist with deep religious feelings.
"I think President López Obrador is trying to project confidence and minimize the risk," said Jesus Silva-Herzog, a political commentator and professor at the Tecnológico de Monterrey University.
But, Silva-Herzog added, "I think that what he has wound up doing is minimizing the risks associated with the emergency, and sending messages that contradict what is being said almost everywhere else."
Mexico reported its first death from the virus Wednesday — a 41-year-old man said to have been obese and suffering from diabetes. As of late Thursday, the country has 164 confirmed cases of coronavirus, up from just over 40 a week ago.
Still, Hugo López-Gatell, deputy secretary in the Health Ministry and the administration's public face of López Obrador's coronavirus response team, said the country remains in what it calls phase 1 of the epidemic, with all cases related to importation from other countries and no community transmission.
Federal officials have suspended classes for about a month beginning after Friday's school sessions and are encouraging things like social distancing, working from home and following hygienic measures recommended by international and domestic health experts.
Some large events have been called off, yet others such as a multi-day music festival attended by tens of thousands in Mexico City were allowed to proceed. Federal officials recommend that "non-essential" gatherings should not be larger than 5,000 people, while local authorities in the capital have said events topping 1,000 people should be canceled.
Mexico has only 5,000 emergency beds, and about 1,500 intensive care or sealed rooms, for a population of over 125 million, but officials still exude a sense of calm at their daily briefings on the virus. And some observers say they are chilled by remarks like López Obrador's.
"I think this has shown a lack of respect by the president," said Carlos Padilla, a Mexico City business administrator. "I think he should be doing a better job of protecting the public, in every sense."
Once community transmission begins — and Mexican officials make no secret that they know it is coming, sooner rather than later — the country is likely to see more aggressive measures.
"We are prepared. We have enough budget. All the resources we need," López Obrador said Thursday.
Some, however, are beginning to be nervous about the lack of response now, including among the president's political opposition. The conservative National Action Party sent a letter to the Pan American Health Organization on Thursday expressing its "deep concern about the government's actions in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic."
Former diplomat Enrique Berruga Filloy said in a column for the newspaper El Universal on Thursday that Mexico's geographic advantages gave it more leeway to plan for the virus and take timely actions, but that the administration has squandered the chance.
"The tsunami is coming and we, instead of seeking safety, are playing on the beach," Berruga Filloy wrote.
Like in other countries, Mexico's stock market has been hit hard by coronavirus concerns. The peso has slid precipitously, trading over 24 to the dollar at times this week for the first time in history.
Alfredo Coutiño of Moody's Analytics said Mexico's markets "are now realizing that the country is facing a higher risk of contamination by the coronavirus" with the Mexican economy already weak.
Despite assurances from officials, Mexico and its health system are showing "real vulnerability," Coutiño said.
He said investors particularly don't like the lack of government measures to protect the economy and the people. "Fiscal and monetary policies are running far behind the curve," he said.
National Action senators proposed a package of measures this week that would include measures such as lowering interest rates, stimulating home construction and infrastructure, reactivating private investment in the energy sector and transferring money to the Health Department. But López Obrador is known for a visceral dislike of spending and deficits.
López-Gatell displayed the administration's attitude Thursday when he said everything is going according to plan.
"All of the scenarios that we foresaw for what was going to happen, are happening," he said. "This will allow us to keep to a well-planned, well-calculated technical plan of action."
López Obrador, who enjoys approval ratings that would be the envy of many a world leader, said Thursday that military medical workers and installations would be part of the pandemic response. But he ruled out any curfew or troop deployments, saying he wanted nothing to do with tough measures that could be seen as authoritarian.
Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and President Hassan Rouhani in separate new year messages vowed to overcome the coronavirus and increase economic growth.
Khamenei, who has final say on all state matters, called the new year "the year of leaps in production" in Iran's economy. He said the country's 80 million people are in a position to boost domestic production alongside the country's exports.
Rouhani marked the new year, known as Nowruz, by promising a better economy and called the coronavirus "an uninvited destructive guest."
The Iranian leaders' optimistic tone Friday stood in stark contrast to the devastation caused by the outbreak. The country has had 1,284 fatalities out of 18,407 confirmed cases of the new virus.
Rouhani has defended his government's response to the coronavirus outbreak in the face of widespread criticism that officials acted too slowly and may have even covered up initial cases before infections rapidly spread across the country.
Rouhani reviewed what he referred to as achievements last year. They ncluded shooting down a sophisticated U.S. drone and missile strikes on U.S. bases in Iraq in retaliation for the killing of a top Revolutionary Guard general in Baghdad.
Rouhani assured Iranians that his administration will keep "health" as its top priority in the new year and said his administration has stockpiled sufficient basic needs of the country "more than before."
Saudi Arabia announced early Friday it would shut down domestic air travel, buses, taxis and trains for the next two weeks, beginning on Saturday morning. The state-run Saudi Press Agency cited an anonymous official at the Interior Ministry making the announcement.
The government of Maldives has decided to subsidise the cost of water and electricity for the next two months in order to provide financial support to the public amid the COVID-19 pandemic, local media quoting Finance Minister Ibrahim Ameer reported Friday.
Ameer said that 19.5 million U.S. dollars has been allocated by the government to pay for 40 percent of all electricity bills and 30 percent of all water bills in the months of April and May.
Ameer said that the COVID-19 pandemic has negatively affected the global economy, and Maldives' decision to declare a State of Public Health Emergency would cause unavoidable losses for the country's economy.
According to state media, tourist arrivals to Maldives could fall by 12 to 35 percent due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Maldives' GDP growth is projected to be between 0.5 to -5.6 percent this year compared to an initial estimate of 7.5 percent.
Ameer said that businesses should use the working capital assistance provided by the government in order to minimize loss of jobs. He added that protecting jobs would ensure domestic consumption and assist the country in making an economic recovery.
The Maldives government has taken several measures to support tourism, fish exports, and small and medium enterprises amid a COVID-19 outbreak that has seen 13 infections in the country so far.
No casualties or damage were reported after a 5.9-magnitude earthquake hit the city of Xigaze, southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region, at 9:33 a.m. Friday, the local government said.
Obvious tremors were felt in Tingri County under Xigaze, but no house collapse or disruption of traffic and communications were reported. The county government has sent officials to villages and towns to collect more information.
In the meantime, nine firefighters and three fire trucks were dispatched to the epicenter. More than 100 firefighters and dozens of vehicles are on standby.
The epicenter was monitored at 28.63 degrees north latitude and 87.42 degrees east longitude, with a depth of 10 km, according to the China Earthquake Networks Center.
Tingri borders Nepal to the south. Most areas of the county belong to the Mount Qomolangma National Nature Reserve.