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AFP
January 22, 2021

Worsening pandemic poses ‘serious risks’, warns Lagarde

World

AFP
January 22, 2021

FRANKFURT: European Central Bank chief Christine Lagarde warned on Thursday that the pandemic still poses “serious risks” to the eurozone economy as concerns grow about new virus variants and sluggish vaccination campaigns.

The Frankfurt institution’s governing council held back from tweaking its ultra-loose monetary policy at its first meeting of the year, having already topped up up support in December. Lagarde stressed that “ample monetary stimulus” remained essential to steer the 19-nation currency club through the Covid-19 upheaval, and that the ECB stood ready to do more as needed.

“The pandemic continues to pose serious risks to public health and to the euro area and global economies,” Lagarde told an online press conference. The start of mass vaccination drives in the European Union was “an important milestone”, she said, but the rollout has got off to a bumpy start in many nations.

The emergence of more contagious virus variants, first discovered in Britain and South Africa, has added to nervousness at a time when many countries are already struggling to bring down infection numbers.

Europe’s top economy Germany this week extended its partial lockdown until February 14, and Chancellor Angela Merkel has not ruled out border checks to slow the spread of the new strains.