Deaths in the US caused by the novel coronavirus surpassed the 7,000 mark Friday, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.  

In all, the university's tally counts 7,406 deaths, with most coming from hard-hit New York City, which has 1,867 fatalities. In the wider state of New York there have been 955 additional deaths.

Countrywide infections stood at almost 277,000.

Since it emerged in the Chinese city of Wuhan in December the virus has spread to 181 countries and regions.

The US has recorded the largest number of cases, but its mortality level has remained comparatively low. Italy remains the hardest hit country with 14,681 deaths, followed by Spain with 11,198 deaths.

The virus has put the global economy on the brink of recession with countries imposing successive measures meant to keep people at home and non-essential business from operating.

The US economy shed 701,000 jobs last month amid layoffs and business closures caused by the virus while unemployment rose to 4.4% from 3.5% in February, the largest month-on-month increase since January 1975.

But those numbers likely tell fall far short of the full effects.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics data includes the first half of March and the latter half of February, which is before many states began instituting tough measures meant to slow the virus' spread.