World Bank, IMF to hold annual summit in 'virtual format' amid coronavirus fears

World Bank, IMF to hold annual summit in 'virtual format' amid coronavirus fears
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The World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) announced Tuesday that they would hold their annual spring meetings in a “virtual format” amid concerns about the spreading coronavirus.

IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva and World Bank President David Malpass said in a joint statement that the development financiers will “leverage our IT-related and virtual connection capabilities to the fullest to hold our essential policy consultations with the membership.”

The IMF and World Bank typically convene thousands of international economic officials in Washington, D.C., each April, but had been mulling whether to modify the summit due to the coronavirus outbreak.

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“Like everyone else around the world, we have been deeply concerned by the evolving situation of the coronavirus and the human tragedy surrounding it,” Georgieva and Malpass said. “With this adapted format, we are confident that our member countries will be able to effectively engage on pressing global economic issues at these Spring Meetings.”

Businesses and nonprofit groups around the world have canceled dozens of conferences and summits over fears of spreading the coronavirus. There are more than 100 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the U.S., according to public health officials, including several instances of community spread.

The U.S. Travel Association’s Travel Trends Index expects foreign flights to the U.S. to drop 6 percent in the next three months, a decline that is “almost certain to escalate once data becomes available for February,” according to the trade group.

A steep drop in international travel and tourism has also put immense strain on businesses in the leisure and hospitality industries, while supply line disruptions caused by travel bans and factory closures are also weighing heavily on the global economy.