More than 90 countries have asked the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for emergency funding as the coronavirus pandemic has led to an unprecedented economic crisis, IMF chief Kristalina Georgieva said on Friday.
“Never in the history of the IMF we have witnessed the world economy come to a standstill,” the head of the Washington-based institution said in a online press conference of the World Health Organisation (WHO).
“We are now in recession.
“It is way worse than the global financial crisis,” she added.
Georgieva said emerging and developing economies were hit the hardest and had seen a financial outflow of nearly 90 billion dollars.
The IMF is especially worried that recent economic growth in African countries could be reversed by the pandemic.
Georgieva said that the IMF would use its 1-trillion-dollar war chest to help distressed economies, including African countries that would otherwise have to chose between feeding their populations or fighting the novel coronavirus.
WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus called on countries to suspend medical fees and to provide free testing and health care for the Covid-19 coronavirus disease.
“If people delay or forego care because they can’t afford it, they not only harm themselves, they make the pandemic harder to control and put society at risk,” Tedros said.
The UN health chief reported that donor countries have already pledged or transferred nearly 690 million dollars for the WHO’s Covid-19 response plan, more than the requested 675 million dollars.
The global number of Covid-19 cases has climbed past 1 million this week, including more than 50,000 deaths.