Containing the coronavirus must be a priority for policymakers as a surge in infections would damage consumer and investor confidence in the economy, the European Central Bank's chief economist said today. 

"The first priority is to contain the virus - if there is a sustained surge in cases, this will damage consumer and investor confidence," Professor Philip Lane said today.

He made his comments during an exchange on Twitter.

"The baseline scenario in our staff projections indeed factors in that a medical solution is found over the course of next year," he said. 

"This would support a recovery in the service sector and put upward pressure on service sector inflation," he added.