The Arc de Triumph in Paris on the sixteenth day of a lockdown in France to stop the spread of Covid-19, April 1 2020. Picture: BERTRAND GUAY / AFP
The Arc de Triumph in Paris on the sixteenth day of a lockdown in France to stop the spread of Covid-19, April 1 2020. Picture: BERTRAND GUAY / AFP

Paris —  France became the fourth country to pass the 4,000 coronavirus deaths threshold on Wednesday, after Italy, Spain and the US, as the government proposed a shared coronavirus rescue fund for the eurozone.

France earlier proposed a shared coronavirus rescue fund for the eurozone, reports said. Finance minister Bruno Le Maire called for a limited fund that would allow the region to issue shared debt to tackle the economic fallout as Brussels heads for a showdown over  “coronabonds”. The rescue scheme could last for five to 10 years and would be  used to help  the worst-hit economies.

French health authorities reported 509 new deaths from the disease, taking the total to 4,032. But, after speeding up the previous two days, the rate of increase of deaths has decelerated in France, which is now in its third week of lockdown to try to slow the spread of the virus.

Speaking by videoconference in front of a parliament committee created to hold the government accountable for the way it handles the crisis, French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said the lockdown would likely be unwound gradually rather than in one go.

The government has ordered people to stay in their homes except for essential travel from March 17 until at least April 15.

With 13,155 deaths to date, Italy accounts for almost 30% of the global death tally. Spain has 9,053 deaths and, just like France, the US has just passed 4,000 deaths.

In other developments:

•  The US Federal Reserve announced on Wednesday it was temporarily easing its leverage rules for large banks by exempting certain investments from a key leverage calculation, part of the effort to combat the economic slowdown inflicted by the coronavirus pandemic.

Banks will now be able to exempt any holdings in US Treasury debt or deposits at the Fed from their calculations of the supplementary leverage ratio, or SLR, an additional leverage restriction imposed on the largest US banks. The exemptions, which the Fed said will help ease strains in the Treasury market and encourage banks to continue lending, will stay in place until March 31 2021.

•  The Bank of Canada began its first-ever foray into “quantitative easing” on Wednesday, with the purchase of C$1bn in government bonds.  The Bank of Canada has not  set a limit on purchases, saying only that it will buy a minimum of C$5bn in government bonds per week until the nation’s recovery is “well under way”.

• The US Navy is evacuating thousands of sailors from the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt in Guam after its captain warned a coronavirus outbreak was threatening the lives of the crew. Ninety-three Covid-19 cases have been discovered among the 4,800-strong Roosevelt crew so far, according to the US Navy.

• Turkey's lira slid more than 1% on Wednesday, dropping to 6.7030 against the dollar, a  level last touched during the worst of the 2018 currency crisis. Turkey has adopted some strict measures to contain the spread but, unlike many other countries, it has stopped short of ordering people to stay at home. A jump in confirmed cases to 13,531 on Tuesday puts Turkey 10th globally.

• A climate summit that had been due to take place in Glasgow in November has been postponed to 2021 due to the coronavirus outbreak, Finland said on Wednesday.

AFP, Reuters, Bloomberg