A World Bank official said on Thursday that swine flu was likely to compound global economic woes as he told a meeting of Southeast Asian nations the institution was willing to mobilise funds to help.
Toomas Palu, of the World Bank's human development sector, told reporters at a regional meeting of health officials that the full effects of the virus were still unclear, but warned policymakers against overreacting.
"We should not forget that the epidemic could have a severe economic impact," Palu said, a day before Southeast Asian ministers are due to meet to discuss the spreading the influenza A(H1N1) virus.
"We need to be vigilant and not let our guard down. In the past 12 months globally... We had a fuel and food price crisis, then we had a financial crisis and now we have a flu crisis," he said.
He said the closure of businesses and schools as well as restrictions on travel could all hamper the economy at a time when finances were already strained, and warned policymakers to ensure evidence-based decision making.
Palu said the World Bank was deciding what type of financial assistance to offer flu-affected countries.
"We are, along with the international community, ready to mobilise international resources," Palu said, adding that data was being gathered and various finance facilities being discussed.