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Need a war-time plan to win the war against COVID-19: Guterres at G20 virtual summit

PTI | United Nations | Updated: 26-03-2020 21:21 IST | Created: 26-03-2020 21:01 IST
Need a war-time plan to win the war against COVID-19: Guterres at G20 virtual summit
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UN chief Antonio Guterres on Thursday warned that the world is not winning the war against the deadly novel Coronavirus and needs a "war-time" plan to fight it as the number of infected cases across the world grow exponentially every day. The UN Secretary-General was speaking at the G20 Virtual Summit on the COVID-19 pandemic hosted by Saudi Arabia, which holds the G20 presidency this year.

"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," Guterres said. "This is exponential growth and only the tip of the iceberg. This war needs a war-time plan to fight it," Guterres said. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is also taking part in the virtual summit along with leaders from the group comprising 19 industrialised countries and the European Union.

The UN chief 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.

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

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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