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The deadly coronavirus epidemic could put an already fragile global economic recovery at risk, the International Monetary Fund head told G20 finance ministers and central bank governors on Sunday.

Global growth was poised for a modest rebound to 3.3% this year, up from 2.9% last year, IMF chief Kristalina Georgieva said at the meeting in the Saudi capital.

“The projected recovery… is fragile,” Georgieva said.

“The COVID-19 virus – a global health emergency – has disrupted economic activity in China and could put the recovery at risk,” she said in a statement.

“I reported to the G20 that even in the case of rapid containment of the virus, growth in China and the rest of the world would be impacted.”

Alarm has been growing over the new virus as Chinese authorities lock down millions of people to prevent its spread, with major knock-on effects economically.

The virus has now claimed 2,345 lives in China, cutting off transportation, disrupting trade and fanning investor alarm as businesses are forced to close their doors.

Georgieva told the two-day Riyadh gathering that the outbreak would shave about 0.1 percentage points from global growth and constrain China’s growth to 5.6% this year.

The IMF chief urged G20 nations to cooperate to contain the spread of the virus.

“COVID-19 is a stark reminder of our interconnections and the need to work together,” Georgieva said. “In this regard, the G20 is an important forum to help put the global economy on a more sound footing.”

– AFP