Canada's growth in April plunged by a record 11% from March as large sections of the economy were shut down to fight the coronavirus outbreak, Statistics Canada said in a flash estimate today. 

Canadian gross domestic product in March fell by 7.2% from February, the most severe month-on-month plunge ever, although the decline was less than the 9% predicted by analysts.

"The March and April decreases are likely to be the largest consecutive monthly declines on record," Statscan said in a commentary. 

Annualised growth for the first quarter sank by 8.2% - the greatest since the 8.7% decline in the first quarter of 2009, during the depths of the great recession. Analysts had expected a 10% drop. 

"Whether the economy declines 5%, 6%, 7% or 8% this year, it's still an extremely challenging backdrop that's going to require a lot of support from both monetary and fiscal policy," said Doug Porter, chief economist at the Bank of Montreal. 

Household spending in the first quarter dropped by 2.3%, the steepest fall on record, as consumers stayed away from car show rooms and clothing and footwear stores. 

"Spending reductions were influenced by substantial job losses, income uncertainty, and limited opportunities to spend because of the mandatory closure of non-essential retail stores, restaurants and services, and restrictions on travel and tourism activities," Statscan said. 

Most of Canada's 10 provinces have taken measures to slowly reopen their economies.