Economic shock of pandemic "worse than global financial crisis": IMF

©Kyodo News

The International Monetary Fund chief on Friday stressed the gravity of the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic, calling it "way worse than the global financial crisis" of 2008.

The IMF has joined forces with the World Health Organization to tackle the impact of COVID-19, which has resulted in more than 50,000 deaths worldwide amid over 1 million infections.

IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva said the Washington-based institution stands ready to use what she calls a "$1 trillion war chest" to any extent necessary to protect the global economy.

She emphasized that saving lives and protecting livelihoods ought to go hand-in-hand.

According to Georgieva, over 90 countries have requested emergency financing from the IMF to help weather the impacts of the pandemic.

She said the IMF has never before witnessed such a number of demands for emergency support.

"The same way the virus hits vulnerable people with medical preconditions hardest, the economic crisis hits vulnerable economies the hardest," the top IMF official said during the WHO press conference.

The IMF is also discussing potential debt relief for poor countries with its members, including China, she said.

In addition, the IMF has encouraged central banks in advanced economies to support liquidity in developing countries, as currencies in vulnerable economies tend to be sold amid capital flight in the event of economic crisis.

Although noting that the world economy is now in a recession due to the coronavirus pandemic, Georgieva said, "Never in the history of the IMF have we witnessed the world economy coming to a standstill."