Kristalina Georgieva

The Internatioanl Monetary Fund (IMF) has pledged $50 billion (£39bn) to support the countries worst affected by the outbreak of coronavirus.

The organisation said that global economic growth is already below last year's levels as a direct result of the virus spreading. The IMF's support will go to poor or middle-income countries that have weak healthcare systems as they struggle to cope with the epidemic.

The global economy had been expected to grow at a stronger pace that last year, but it is now expected to fall to the lowest levels seen since the global financial crisis since 2008.

IMF managing director, Kristalina Georgieva, refused to be drawn on whether or not it would spark a global recession but warned: "How far it will fall and how long the impact will be is still difficult to predict."

The move follows the World Bank, which pledged $12bn for developing countries affected by the spread. Earlier this week, the US Federal Reserve imposed its first emergency cut to interest rates since 2008, and the UK's Bank of England is expected to follow suit in the near future. Meanwhile, speculation is mounting that new chancellor Rishi Sunak will use next week's Budget statement to announce support for businesses affected by a downturn in trade as a result of the outbreak.