G7 pledge to 'do whatever it takes' to safeguard economy

G7 leaders, pictured in 2017, say their finance ministers will talk to each other weekly as the coronavirus ravages the global economy

Leaders of the G7 industrial powerhouses pledged Monday to join forces to halt economic freefall in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, which they called "a human tragedy."

And US President Donald Trump later acknowledged the American economy "may be" headed into a recession.

As the outbreak caused more countries to shut down and brought the global economy to a screeching halt, the leaders stressed the need to join forces and move quickly to address the damage.

"The COVID-19 pandemic is a human tragedy and a global health crisis, which also poses major risks for the world economy," a joint statement from Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States said.

"We resolve to coordinate measures and do whatever it takes, using all policy tools, to achieve strong growth in the G7 economies and to safeguard against downside risks," the leaders said in a statement following an emergency videoconference.

The measures aim to "support immediately and as much as necessary the workers, companies and sectors most affected," the statement said.

The G7 likewise said it would work together on "border management" following the drastic curtailment of movement across borders in an effort to slow the spread of the illness.

With market selloffs triggered by mass quarantines and travel restrictions, governments in the world's wealthiest countries are under pressure to show they can control the situation.

Trump told reporters at the White House the impact could wash through the economy by July or August or it "could be longer than that."

But Trump, who frequently uses the stock market as a bellwether of his presidency, said markets could see a "a tremendous surge," once authorities gain the upper hand in the battle with the virus which he called "an invisible army."

The G7 leaders instructed their finance ministers to consult weekly to implement policy measures and "develop further timely and effective actions."

Health ministers will likewise talk weekly to try to coordinate information to the public and medical know-how and equipment.

The G7 leaders noted the disruption to supply chains due to transportation shutdowns, as well as the harm to families.

They called on global institutions like the IMF to "swiftly" deploy financial assistance to countries that need it.

"We are committed to working together with resolve to implement these measures to respond to this global emergency," the leaders said.

And they added they are "determined not only to restore the level of growth anticipated before the COVID-19 pandemic but also to build the foundation for stronger future growth."

In Washington, the White House called the videoconference "historic" and said the G7 leaders worked to "accelerate the national health and economic responses to the coronavirus pandemic in order to save lives and restore economic growth."