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Media captionTrump on goal to reopen US by Easter: It’s ‘a beautiful timeline’

A stimulus package worth more than $1.8 trillion ((£1.5tn) has been agreed by US Senate leaders and the White House to ease the impact of coronavirus.

It reportedly includes payments of $1,200 to most American adults and aid to help small businesses pay workers.

Full details of the deal, which Congress is expected to pass, are not known.

Financial markets around the world rose on news of the deal.

President Donald Trump has said he hopes the US will shake off coronavirus within less than three weeks.

But the top US infectious disease expert, Anthony Fauci, warned that “you have to be very flexible” about a timeframe for ending the crisis.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo warned the illness was spreading faster than “a bullet train” in his state, which is at the centre of the pandemic in the US.

After 802 deaths and 55,225 confirmed infections, America is more than midway through a 15-day attempt to slow the spread of the virus through social distancing.

Around 19,000 people have died with coronavirus across the planet since it emerged in China’s Wuhan province in January, and more than 425,000 infections have been confirmed.

Southern Europe is now at the centre of the pandemic, with Italy and Spain recording hundreds of new deaths every day.

Governments around the world have responded by locking down societies in the hope of slowing the spread of the virus.

What do we know about the deal?

The agreement reached in the early hours of Wednesday includes tax rebates, loans, money for hospitals and rescue packages.

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According to CNN, individuals who earn $75,000 or less would get direct payments of $1,200 each, with married couples earning up to $150,000 receiving $2,400 and an additional $500 per each child.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell described the package as a “wartime level of investment” in the US nation.

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Media captionCelebrating a birthday party by video chat

It must still be voted through the House of Representatives and the Senate before President Trump signs it off but it enjoys cross-party support.

One factor that may delay its passage is the question of how voting will be conducted, given that some members of Congress are off with coronavirus or are self-isolating having come into contact with infected people.

Is Easter a realistic deadline?

Mr Trump said he hoped the country could get back to normal by Easter, which falls on 12 April this year.

“We’re going to be opening relatively soon…” he told Fox News. “I would love to have the country opened up and just rearing to go by Easter.”

But he later sounded more cautious, saying: “We’ll only do it if it’s good.”

He added that re-opening could be limited to “sections” of the country such as “the farm belt”.

“You know, you can look at a date but you’ve got to be very flexible on that,” said Dr Fauci.

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People can be seen wearing protective masks on Miami’s mass transit system

“No one,” he added, “is going to want to tone down things when you see what’s going on in a place like New York City”.

New York accounts for 192 of US deaths with coronavirus, more than any other state, and had more than 25,000 cases as of Tuesday morning.

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Media captionThe New York Governor Andrew Cuomo: The city ‘is a test case’

“The [infection] forecaster said to me, ‘We were looking at a freight train coming across the country,'” Governor Cuomo told reporters. “We’re now looking at a bullet train.”

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“New York,” he added, “is the canary in the coal mine, New York is happening first, what is happening to New York will happen to California and Illinois, it is just a matter of time.”

source: bbc.com

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