International aid group Oxfam has urged world leaders to agree a comprehensive rescue package of $2.5 trillion to prevent half a billion more people being pushed into poverty by the coronavirus pandemic. 

It warned that the economic fallout of the coronavirus risked setting back the fight against poverty by a decade, and as much as 30 years in some regions including Africa and the Middle East.

Oxfam's new report, Dignity Not Destitution, which presents fresh analysis conducted by researchers at the King's College London and the Australian National University, estimates that as many as half a billion people, or 8% of the world's population, could be forced into poverty.

"An 'Emergency Rescue Package for All' would enable poor countries to provide cash grants to those who have lost their income and to bail out vulnerable small businesses," Oxfam said.

Among the measures that should be undertaken include the immediate cancellation of $1 trillion worth of developing country debt payments in 2020 and the creation of at least $1 trillion in new international reserves.

"G20 Finance Ministers, the IMF and World Bank must give developing countries an immediate cash injection to help them bail out poor and vulnerable communities," said Jose Maria Vera, Oxfam International Interim Executive Director.

Oxfam warned that while many wealthy nations have introduced multi-billion-dollar economic stimulus packages to support business and workers "most developing nations lack the financial firepower to follow suit".

Delivering the $2.5 trillion the UN estimates is needed to support developing countries through the pandemic would also require an additional $500bn in overseas aid, Oxfam said. 

Oxfam Ireland Chief Executive Jim Clarken said: "While we struggle to cope with the widespread loss of life and human suffering it is causing, at Oxfam, we're urgently calling for decisive and collective action to prevent a global economic fallout that would devastate and threaten the lives of the world's most vulnerable people."

Meanwhile, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) president Suma Chakrabarti has called on the international community to join forces to combat the coronavirus pandemic, describing the demand for emergency financing as "huge".

He warned that the current crisis is the "greatest disruption to global economic activity since the Second World War".

The EBRD has already announced a €1 billion solidarity package and Mr Chakrabarti said the developmental lender was now working on a second phase of its programme.