The novel coronavirus continued its deadly march across the globe, sowing carnage across world markets as never seen since the 2008 financial crisis and disrupting economic activity across the globe.

Manufacturing activity in China, the world's factory, fell to its lowest level on record in February, official data released Saturday showed. But the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) in China said the effect of disruption from the COVID-19 was "more severe" in the non-manufacturing area.

"There was a plunge in demand for consumer industries involving gatherings of people, such as transportation, accommodation, catering, tourism, and resident services," the NBS said in a statement.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 357.28 points Friday, rallying after briefly falling more than a 1,000 points; the Nasdaq composite index closed flat after losing more than 3.5% during the day.  

The S&P 500 lost $203 billion in value Friday, CNBC reported, adding that including Friday's losses U.S. stocks have lost $3.18 trillion.

The markets got some relief after Fed Chairman Jerome Powell pledged action over coronavirus risks, if necessary, and the Washington Post reported that the Trump administration was mulling tax cuts.

The coronavirus outbreak has spooked markets worldwide as fears grow about its impact on the global economy The coronavirus outbreak has spooked markets worldwide as fears grow about its impact on the global economy Photo: AFP / STR

More countries report infections: Governments across the world were grappling to contain the COVID-19 outbreaks as the number of confirmed infections climbed to 85,000 and deaths rose to at least 2,861. So far 2,922 people have died from the virus globally. Outside of China, Iran, Italy and South Korea lead in those deaths.

Italy has now 820 confirmed cases and hospitals there are struggling to cope, reports said. Taiwan has 38 confirmed coronavirus cases, while Iceland confirmed its first case. Canada has 16 confirmed cases.

South Korea, one of the global hotspots for the virus outside of China, has more than 2,900 confirmed cases and its vice health minister warned that the numbers will continue to rise. It reported 594 cases overnight.

Trump sees politics, blames Dems: Back home, President Donald Trump sought to inject politics into the discussion about the virus and his administration's response to it, saying at a campaign rally in South Carolina on Friday that Democrats were using the outbreak as a "new hoax" to damage him and his administration. Still, he said he was taking the virus' threat seriously. “We have to take it very, very seriously ... We are preparing for the worst,” Trump said.

The number of confirmed infections in the U.S. continued to rise, although not at alarming levels -- yet.

An elementary school in Oregon will remain closed through Wednesday after an employee became the first person in the state to be reported as infected. But there was no known source for the infection. California also reported its second "unexplained" infection.

Washington state too reported two "presumptive positive" infections, one of them a high school student. It means the public health laboratory in Washington has found a positive result on the infecton but it is yet to be confirmed at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

Reports said drug stores and retailers are struggling to keep up with surging demand for cleaning products.