UAE Central Bank urges banks to review continuity plans amid coronavirus scare

Confirmed cases in the UAE rose to 21 on Saturday as global spread of Covid-19 continues

UAE banks remain well capitalised and in a good position to support customers affected by the virus, the central bank said. Ryan Carter /The National.
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The Central Bank of the UAE is urging banks to review their business continuity plans as it established a committee to assess and identify solutions to mitigate the impact of the coronavirus on the country's economy.

Financial institutions are expected to implement measures such as the "re-scheduling of loans contracts, granting temporary deferrals on monthly loan payments as well as reducing fees and commissions" for customers affected by the virus, the central bank said in a statement on Saturday.

UAE banks remain well-capitalised and are in a good position to support customers affected by the virus, without "jeopardising their own safety and soundness", the statement said.

The UAE reported 21 cases of the coronavirus on Saturday as the outbreak continued to spread across the globe.

The World Health Organisation has raised the alarm on the virus to "very high" from "high" but stopped short of calling the outbreak a pandemic.

The virus has migrated from its source in China's Hubei province, with scores of new cases being reported in countries such as South Korea, Italy and Iran. The global death toll from the virus has topped 2,900 with the number of confirmed infection cases worldwide surpassing 84,000.

"[The] CBUAE continues to closely monitor the situation, and, if necessary, will provide additional guidance and direction," the statement said.

Central banks around the world are acknowledging the risks posed by the virus, which has disrupted supply lines and trade, leading to a rout in oil prices and stocks.

Oil prices and global stocks slumped to their worst week since 2008 as the virus spread to more than 40 countries.

The S&P 500 fell 0.8 per cent on Friday, declining more than 10 per cent over the week, while crude oil futures in New York declined 16 per cent.

The US Federal Reserve indicated it was prepared to cut interest rates, if needed, to sustain the country's longest-ever expansion, according to its chairman Jerome Powell.