Global financial leaders vow ‘action’ to stem virus impact
PAIRS: Global financial leaders vowed to ward off a widespread financial crisis threatened by the coronavirus Tuesday, after the UN health agency said the world has entered “uncharted territory” with the outbreak’s rapid spread.
The deadly virus has marched well beyond China’s borders, spreading across Asia and Europe and into Latin America, Africa and the United States, where the number of deaths rose Monday.
More than 90,000 people have been infected and 3,100 killed since the virus first emerged in China’s Hubei province late last year.
The vast majority of cases have been in China, but South Korea, Italy and Iran have all emerged as hotspots. There are now nine times as many new cases recorded outside China as inside, according to the World Health Organization.
Global bourses have seen dramatic swings over the past week as concerns mount that the outbreak could threaten global growth and drive some countries in to a recession.
Leaders from Group of Seven countries -- Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States -- held emergency talks with central bank chiefs Tuesday, vowing to stem the outbreak’s impact.
“G7 finance ministers are ready to take actions, including fiscal measures where appropriate, to aid in the response to the virus and support the economy during this phase,” the group said after the conference call.
The US Federal Reserve announced a surprise rate cut Tuesday after the G7 talks -- which did not include specific measures to boost growth -- sending US and European markets surging.
The market swings come after the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) on Monday dropped its global GDP forecast to 2.4 percent, the lowest rate since the 2008-09 financial crisis.
- Uncharted territory -
Financial jitters followed a dire warning from the World Health Organization as the virus continued to expand its reach.
“We are in uncharted territory,” WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Monday.
“We have never before seen a respiratory pathogen that is capable of community transmission, but which can also be contained with the right measures.”
Community transmission means infections within a population are not imported from another virus-hit area.
Countries across the world have imposed extraordinary measures in a bid to contain the virus, with millions of people across large swathes of China forced into quarantine. - AFP