The European Union’s gross domestic product (GDP) contracted by 2.7% on an annual basis, the sharpest declines since the third quarter of 2009, amid COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the bloc’s statistical authority Eurostat’s flash estimate, the GDP also dropped by 3.3% in the eurozone in the January-March period, versus the same quarter last year.

The eurozone/euro area or EA19 represents member states that use the single currency — euro — while the EU27 includes all member countries of the bloc.

“In March 2020, the final month of the period covered, COVID-19 containment measures began to be widely introduced by Member States,” the office said.

The European Union and eurozone economies also narrowed by 3.5% and 3.8% in the first quarter, on a quarterly basis. “These were the sharpest declines observed since time series started in 1995,” Eurostat said.

After originating in China last December, the coronavirus has spread to at least 185 countries and regions. Europe and the US are currently the worst-hit regions. 

The pandemic has killed nearly 228,000 people, with total infections exceeding 3.2 million, while more than 984,100 have recovered so far, according to figures compiled by Johns Hopkins University in the US.

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