BEIJING — The international community has urged the Group of Twenty (G20) to step up and play a bigger role as the global economy continues to suffer repercussions from the COVID-19 pandemic.

While there remains great uncertainty on the global economic outlook, the unprecedented actions taken by the G20 countries and others “have helped to avert a much worse outcome,” Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Kristalina Georgieva said Saturday at the conclusion of a virtual meeting of the G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors.

“As we enter the next phase of the crisis, further policy action will be required, as well as increased international cooperation,” she said.

Georgieva’s call for further actions from the G20 was seconded by World Bank Group President David Malpass, who, during the meeting, urged the G20 countries to extend the time frame of the Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI) through the end of 2021.

“We’ve made a great deal of progress with DSSI in a short period of time, but more needs to be done,” said the World Bank chief, calling the effort one of the key factors in strengthening global recovery.

In response, G20 officials have vowed on Saturday to take immediate and exceptional measures to address COVID-19.

“We will consider a possible extension of the DSSI in the second half of 2020, taking into account the development of the COVID-19 pandemic situation,” G20 officials said in a statement.

The statement highlighted that the G20 will continue to facilitate international trade and investment and to build the resilience of supply chains to support growth, productivity, innovation, job creation and development.

Meanwhile, public health response remains vital. IMF chief Georgieva called it “the main priority” to protect people, jobs, and economic activity.

“Across the world, countries have implemented exceptional measures to support individuals and workers. These lifelines should be maintained as needed and, in some cases, expanded,” she told the G20 finance ministers and central bank governors.

Jeffery Sachs, professor of sustainable development and professor of health policy and management at Columbia University, said in a recent article that all G20 countries need to cooperate on global-scale policies to overcome the health crisis.

Noting that an epidemic is a social phenomenon and needs a social response, the U.S. economist urged all people to be cautious until the pandemic is suppressed.

“That means wearing face masks in public places, keeping a prudent distance from others, and monitoring ourselves and our close contacts for symptoms,” he wrote.

“As South Korea, Japan, and China have shown, the virus can be suppressed — that is, new cases can be brought to near zero — if this basic logic is followed,” he said.

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