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Coronavirus

G-7 leaders vow to share best intelligence on coronavirus

Health and finance ministers to meet weekly online for coordinating response

President Donald Trump is seen in the Situation Room of the White House with his coronavirus response team in January. The president took part in the video conference with G-7 leaders from this room. (Photo courtesy of the White House)

NEW YORK -- Group of Seven leaders said they will "marshal the full power" of their governments in a coordinated response to COVID-19, after holding an emergency meeting online Monday.

"We are committed to doing whatever is necessary to ensure a strong global response through closer cooperation and enhanced coordination of our efforts," the leaders said in a joint statement after their first-ever virtual meeting, which U.S. President Donald Trump attended from the White House Situation Room.

The member nations acknowledged that the pandemic is a "human tragedy and a global health crisis" that poses major risks for the world economy. 

The leaders agreed to pool epidemiologic data and cooperate on research to find a cure for the illness. On the economic front, the leaders agreed to use all fiscal and monetary measures to address the impact of the outbreak and restore growth.

"We stress the value of real-time information sharing to ensure access to the best and latest intelligence, improving prevention strategies and mitigation measures," the leaders said.

The ministers of health and finance will meet online weekly to exchange information and coordinate policies, the leaders agreed.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told reporters after the meeting that developing a treatment for the coronavirus is the top priority. "The G-7 must cooperate and bring together the world's knowledge to significantly speed up drug development," he said in Tokyo.

Abe added that he won support from other G-7 countries to hold the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics "in its full form" as a symbol of humanity's victory against the coronavirus pandemic. "Full form" is seen to mean that he is opposed to holding sports events with no spectators or scaling down the games.

After the meeting, White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow told reporters that Abe "mentioned how much he wanted to hold the Olympics in Tokyo this summer ... President Trump wished him luck," Kudlow said. "We're all behind him on that."

On the meeting itself, Kudlow said "The degree of cooperation and coordination was fantastic." 

"They all want to do whatever it takes on the health side of solving the virus side and on the economic side. We just heard that from one president and prime minister after another," he said.

The G-7 meeting, proposed by French President Emmanuel Macron last week, followed coordinated actions from member central banks over the weekend including the U.S. Federal Reserve cutting the interest rate close to zero.

The Bank of Japan moved Thursday's policy meeting up to Monday and said it will expand its purchases of stocks, bonds and other financial assets.

In recent weeks, several G-7 members have become new hot spots of the coronavirus outbreak.

Italy recorded 349 deaths Monday from COVID-19, raising the nation's fatalities to 2,158, out of 27,980 confirmed cases. The European country extended its lockdown nationwide a week ago, as numbers spiraled.

France, which is earlier on the curve with 5,437 cases and 127 deaths, adopted similarly stringent measures, ordering most businesses -- including all bars and restaurants -- to close by the end of last week. Neighboring Germany has shut some of its borders and mandated closures of nonessential businesses.

The U.S. has banned foreigners traveling from France, Italy, Germany and the U.K. in a broader European travel ban. Some of its own cities, including Los Angeles and New York, have imposed shutdowns on businesses.

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