UN chief warns millions will die if virus unchecked

WASHINGTON: Millions of people will die if governments do not step up efforts to control the spread of the new coronavirus and coordinate responses, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned Thursday.

“We are in an unprecedented situation, and the normal rules no longer apply,” Guterres said in a livestreamed question and answer session. “We cannot resort to the usual tools in such unusual times. The creativity of the response must match the unique nature of the crisis, and the magnitude of the response must match its scale. Our world faces a common enemy. We are at war with a virus.”

If the virus is allowed to spread “like wildfire,” Guterres said, millions will be killed, particularly those in the most vulnerable communities.

“We need to immediately move away from a situation where each country is undertaking its own strategies to one that ensures, in full transparency, a coordinated global response, including helping countries that are less prepared to tackle the crisis. Governments must give the strongest support to the multilateral effort to fight the virus led by the World Health Organization whose appeals must be fully met.”

Guterres called especially on G20 nations to take the lead and warned that a global recession caused by the pandemic is “a near certainty.”

There are over 235,000 confirmed coronavirus infections worldwide, including 9,785 deaths, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland.

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