Fitch Ratings downgraded its UK long-term issuer default ratings to AA- from AA with a negative outlook due to the impact of the coronavirus, coupled with lingering Brexit questions, on the country’s finances.
The UK has so far reported nearly 15,000 infections and 759 deaths from the coronavirus pandemic.
“The downgrade also reflects the deep near-term damage to the UK economy caused by the coronavirus outbreak and the lingering uncertainty regarding the post-Brexit UK-EU trade relationship,” Fitch said in a statement.
The outlook for the country’s ratings is also negative, reflecting the ratings firm’s view that the UK government will not prioritize reversing the deterioration of the country’s finances beyond 2020.
The coronavirus has had an unprecedented impact on financial markets around the world. Some experts have predicted that the virus could cause annualized gross domestic product (GDP) to fall around 30 percent in the second quarter of 2020 as a result of the widespread lockdowns and business closures resulting from virus-suppression efforts.
For the year, Fitch Ratings predicts that the UK’s GDP could fall by close to 4 percent in 2020.
On Friday, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson reported that he had tested positive for the virus, but that he remains in charge of the country’s response to the pandemic.
Earlier this week Britain’s Prince Charles announced that he had tested positive for the virus.