Nissan Motor reportedly is to lay off about 10,000 workers at its idle American plants while Honda Motor is placing more than half its US staff on temporary leave, as Japanese automakers step up their response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Almost all of Nissan's US workforce is to be affected by the layoffs at car and engine factories in Tennessee and at a car plant in Mississippi, the Nikkei reported, adding salary payments have also been delayed at some facilities.

Honda's move affects five assembly factories in Ohio, Alabama and other states. The automaker employs 20,000 workers in the US, of whom more than 10,000 will be put on leave until the end of April.

Production at Nissan's three plants has been suspended since 20 March 20 in response to the coronavirus outbreak.

While Nissan initially decided to close until April 6, with no end in sight for the outbreak it has now extended the shutdown to the end of April.

The affected employees will not be paid by Nissan after being laid off though the Nikkei said it appears the company will rehire them once the plants restart production. The workers will draw unemployment benefits until then.

Nissan also plans to lay off most of its 6,000 employees at its UK plant and about 3,000 at the factory in Barcelona, Spain, the Nikkei said.

Honda, which built 1.2m cars in the US in 2019, suspended production at its factories there on 23 March. Nikkei said the automaker will guarantee full wages until Sunday. On Monday, the company will instruct the workers to apply for unemployment benefits from their local governments.