Senator Chuck Schumer to propose $8.5b. package for coronavirus support

The top Democrat in the U.S. Senate on Wednesday called for a dramatic increase in emergency spending to bolster the nation's coronavirus response, saying $8.5 billion was needed to fight any possible outbreak in the United States.

The Trump administration has asked for $2.5 billion in funding for the coronavirus response, as U.S. health authorities warned Americans to prepare for the spread of the virus amid a surge in global cases.

But nearly half of the money the administration has requested would be rediverted from unused funds already authorized for other needs, such as to stem the Ebola outbreak hitting parts of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Schumer called the Trump administration's approach insufficient.

Schumer's proposal would include billions to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Institutes of Health, and reimbursements to state and local health departments and other matters.

It is unclear what the chances are for the proposal to be approved in the Senate, where the Democrats are in the minority and would require the support of some Republican senators to pass it.

The global stock market has tumbled for the past five days over fears of a prolonged disruption to supply chains by the disease, which has infected about 80,000 people and killed more than 2,700.

More than 50 people in the United States are confirmed to have the virus, most of whom were on a cruise ship.