The International Monetary Fund warned on Monday that the damage caused to global economy by the coronavirus pandemic could be as bad as the Great Recession in 2008 and will need an emergency response.

In a statement after a call with finance ministers of G20 nations, IMF chief Kristalina Georgieva said that the world will have to face severe economic damage due to the pandemic but there might be signs of recovery in 2021. “First, the outlook for global growth: for 2020 it is negative – a recession at least as bad as during the global financial crisis or worse,” she said. “But we expect recovery in 2021.”

Georgieva urged advanced economies to support low-income countries, and said the IMF is ready to deploy all of its $1 trillion lending capacity. She added that the coronavirus pandemic has inflicted immense human toll and all countries must work together to protect their citizens. “The human costs of the coronavirus pandemic are already immeasurable and all countries need to work together to protect people and limit the economic damage.”

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The IMF chief said that the coronavirus pandemic has led to the largest capital outflow ever recorded. “Investors have already removed $83 billion from emerging markets since the beginning of the crisis, the largest capital outflow ever recorded,” she said.

Georgieva said that emerging markets and low-income countries “face significant challenge” and may need more financial support and even debt relief.

With several parts of the world going under lockdown, suspension of all transport, closing down of businesses and cancellation of major events, the coronavirus pandemic has devastated the economy. The virus – which has spread to 168 nations, killed more than 16,000 people across the world and infected over 3,80,000 – has put immense pressure on healthcare systems.