'We Are At War With A Virus - And Not Winning It,' UN Chief Tell G20 Leaders


'We are at war with a virus - and not winning it,' UN chief tell G20 leaders

UNITED NATIONS, (UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News - 27th Mar, 2020 ) :UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told leaders of the world's 20 major industrialized countries during an emergency virtual summit that the world is not winning the war against the deadly coronavirus and called for a coordinated global response to beat back the pandemic.

His video call in lieu of a physical gathering comes as governments around the world stress the importance of social distancing to curb the spread of the highly infectious virus, which has prompted closures, curfews and lockdowns globally.

Saudi Arabia, which preside over the G20 this year, opened the meeting with an urgent appeal by King Salman for the world's rich nations to finance the research and development of a vaccine for the virus, which causes an illness known as COVID-19.

"This human crisis requires a global response. The world counts on us to come together and cooperate in order to face this challenge," the Saudi monarch told the virtual summit.

The global death toll from the virus has climbed past 22,000 and the number of infections has surpassed 480,000, according to a count kept by Johns Hopkins University.

In his remarks, the UN chief said, "We are at war with a virus - and not winning it. It took the world three months to reach 100,000 confirmed cases of infection. The next 100,000 happened in just 12 days. The third took four days. The fourth, just one and a half.

"This is exponential growth and only the tip of the iceberg. This war needs a war-time plan to fight it," he said.

Guterres said solidarity among the G-20 and with the developing world, including countries in conflict, is essential to deal with the crisis.

Recalling his appeal for a global ceasefire, Guterres said the first critical area for concerted G-20 action is to suppress the transmission of COVID-19 as quickly as possible.

"That must be our common strategy. It requires a coordinated G-20 response mechanism guided by World Health Organisation," he said, adding that all countries must be able to combine systematic testing, tracing, quarantining and treatment with restrictions on movement and contact aiming to suppress the transmission of the virus.

He said nations also have to coordinate the exit strategy to keep the virus suppressed until a vaccine becomes available.

"There is also need for massive support to increase the response capacity of developing countries," Guterres said.

"It is also essential to work together to minimize the social and economic impact." "The G-20 came of age in the 2008 financial crisis. The challenges before us dwarf those of 2008. And what we face today is not a banking crisis; it is a human crisis," he said.

Emphasizing that while the liquidity of the financial system must be assured, emphasis must be on the human dimension and nations must concentrate on people, keeping households afloat and businesses solvent, able to protect jobs.

"This will require a global response reaching double-digit percentages of the global economy," he said, adding that he welcomes infusions of liquidity and social and economic support in developed countries with direct transfer of resources to people and businesses.

Noting that a stimulus package to help developing countries with the same objectives requires a massive investment, Guterres said there is need for greater resources for the International Monetary Fund and other International Financial Institutions, a meaningful emission of Special Drawing Rights, coordinated swaps between central banks and steps to alleviate debt, such as a waiver of interest payments.

He also appealed for the waving off of sanctions that can undermine countries' capacity to respond to the pandemic.

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