World Bank calls for global effort against virus

Agence France-Presse

Posted at Feb 04 2020 08:23 AM

Passengers wear protective masks following the outbreak of a new coronavirus, in a MTR train in Hong Kong, China Feb. 4, 2020. Tyrone Siu, Reuters

WASHINGTON -- The World Bank called on Monday for countries to step up programs to fight the new coronavirus outbreak, and said it was considering mobilizing its own resources against the disease.

"We are calling on all countries to strengthen their health surveillance and response systems, which is essential to contain the spread of this and any future outbreaks," the institution said in a statement.

"The World Bank Group is reviewing financial and technical resources that can be mobilized quickly to support affected countries," and also "closely coordinating with international partners to accelerate the international response."

Since breaking out in China, the virus has killed 425 people in the country, exceeding the 349 dead in the Chinese mainland from the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) outbreak of 2002-03, which eventually killed nearly 800 globally.

The new virus has infected 17,200 people and spread to more than 20 countries. China's financial markets tanked on Monday due to fears it could paralyze the country and harm the global economy.

The World Bank said it was "monitoring the wider economic and social impacts of this crisis," and would support "China's efforts to respond, including its efforts to maintain resilience in its economy."

If the epidemic reaches the same severity as the Spanish flu in 1918, which killed 30 million people, it could cost the global economy between one percent and ten percent of growth, World Bank President Jim Yong Kim said at the end of January.

International Monetary Fund chief Kristalina Georgieva said last week that negative impacts on the economy in the first half of 2020 were likely but "it would be irresponsible to offer any speculations around what may happen."


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