Chris Williamson, chief business economist at IHS Markit, said: "Business activity across the eurozone collapsed in March to an extent far exceeding that seen even at the height of the global financial crisis".
The new orders index was 38.2 compared with 49.4 last month, a near 11-year low.
"Steep downturns were seen in France, Germany and across the rest of the euro area as governments took increasingly tough measures to contain the spread of the coronavirus".
The eurozone's economic struggle was worsened by some European Union member states closing off their borders to neighbours, limiting the flow of goods and people within the single market. But that mitigation effort is yet to be felt.
IHS Markit research shows the March survey reading is consistent with GDP falling at a quarterly rate of 1.5-2.0%, a decline which is sufficiently large to push the economy into a contraction in the first quarter.More news: Australia's NSW at 'critical stage' in relation to coronavirus, says premier
Employees are being let go at the fastest rate since June 2009.
The last Chinese services PMIs came in at 29.6 with manufacturing at 35.7, he noted, stating it was possible the United Kingdom could reach that point now it is in full lockdown.
After an initial outbreak in China brought the world's second largest economy to a virtual halt last month, an ever growing number of countries and territories have reported a spike in infections and deaths in March.
Former Bank of England Governor Mervyn King said the economic challenge facing Britain was tougher than during the 2008-09 financial crisis and that public borrowing was likely to rise significantly.More news: NASA Hangs Deal At The James Webb Space Telescope
The startlingly bad PMI indicator heaped more pressure on eurozone finance ministers, who were to meet via videolink later Tuesday to consider coordinated ways to blunt the economic fall-out from the pandemic.
The survey shows that even before the official shutdown, people had begun to stop going out, with the worst affected being hotels, restaurants as well as sports centres, gyms and hair salons, the report said.
But while it demonstrated the wide and sudden impact of the coronavirus, it "doesn't tell us much about the depth of the decline".
Yes, these numbers give a sense of the very sharp downturn we're undergoing, but it's still anyone's guess how deep this actually is. "Perhaps most relevant is how much unemployment and bankruptcies can be avoided to determine the possible steepness of a recovery". According to economists, the coronavirus disruptions tipped the economy into recession in March. The flash German services PMI activity index declined to 34.5 this month versus 52.5 last month (its worst reading in history).More news: 'IOC will prioritize athletes' safety': Indonesian Olympic Committee