Coronavirus: Saudi hosts G20 finance ministers and central bank governors on call to address crisis

Earlier, World Health Organisation warned the pandemic was accelerating

Saudi Minister of Finance Mohammed Al-Jadaan speaks during a meeting of Finance ministers and central bank governors of the G20 nations in the Saudi capital Riyadh on February 23, 2020. The deadly coronavirus epidemic will dent global growth, the IMF warned, as G20 finance ministers and central bank governors weighed its economic ripple effects at a two-day gathering in Riyadh. / AFP / FAYEZ NURELDINE
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Saudi Arabia hosted a video conference with G20 finance ministers and central bank governors on Monday to discuss the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on the global economy and ways to tackle it.

The Saudi Ministry of Culture and Information said the officials discussed the preparation for the virtual G20 leaders’ summit, which the kingdom, as president, is convening in a few days to co-ordinate international efforts on the pandemic.

The coronavirus, which was first discovered in the central Chinese city of Wuhan at the end of last year, has so far claimed the lives of 16,381 people.

Mohammed Al Jadaan, the Saudi Finance Minister, opened the meeting by stressing the need to increase G20 efforts to provide support to people and businesses, and protect the stability of the global economy and financial markets.

“Since the last meeting of G20 finance ministers and central bank governors in February, the global economy outlook has significantly deteriorated," Mr Al Jadaan said.

"The evolution and global spread of the Covid-19 pandemic has impacted the global economy at the backdrop of disruption in elements of both supply and demand."

During the meeting, leaders agreed to closely monitor the pandemic, including its effects on markets and economic conditions, and act further to support the economy.

They agreed to develop a G20 action plan in response to the coronavirus.

The officials discussed ways creditors could address the risks of debt vulnerabilities, especially in low-income countries, as a result of the outbreak.

They spoke of the IMF working closely with the World Bank and other international institutions to use all resources and explore measures to support financial stability and ease liquidity constraints for emerging markets and developing economies.

Mr Al Jadaan ended the meeting by stressing the need for the G20 to enhance its co-operation in addressing the pandemic.

G20 finance ministers and governors will hold regular video calls to continue to address the pandemic.

Earlier on Monday, World Health Organisation chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warned that the pandemic was accelerating.

But Dr Tedros said it was still possible to “change the trajectory of the outbreak”.

"It took 67 days from the first reported case to reach the first 100,000 cases, 11 days for the second 100,000 cases and just four days for the third 100,000 cases,” he said.