Earlier this week, London and Brussels agreed to continue Brexit talks despite the coronavirus pandemic that has infected 93,877 people in the UK and left 12,107 dead, according to the latest data by the World Health Organisation.

The UK should request an extension to the post-Brexit transition period to avoid uncertainty as the world economy is in for a major downturn, head of the International Monetary Fund Kristalina Georgieva told BBC radio.

"It is tough as it is. Let's not make it any tougher...My advice would be to seek ways in which this element of uncertainty is reduced in the interests of everybody, of the UK, of the EU, the whole world", Georgieva said.

The IMF chief also applauded timely and well-coordinated UK efforts made by the Finance Ministry and the Bank of England during the coronavirus crisis, such as increased spending, tax cuts, and guarantees for company loans.

"That very strong package of measures is helping the UK, but given the UK's sizeable role in the world economy, it's actually helping everyone", she said.

The comment comes as the International Monetary Fund issued a gloomy forecast earlier this week saying that the global economy is facing its steepest downturn since the Great Depression.

UK and EU negotiators previously agreed on the next round of Brexit talks to be held online due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The negotiating parties are hoping to reach tangible progress by June.

The UK withdrew from the United Kingdom on 31 January after over three years of talks. The transition period is currently in force allowing London and Brussels time to ink agreements including a trade deal. The period is set to expire on 31 December.