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UN chief calls for global 'solidarity' in fight against COVID-19

Xinhua | Updated: 2020-04-01 13:00

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. [Photo/Xinhua]

UNITED NATIONS - United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Tuesday called for global "solidarity" and cooperation on socio-economic fronts to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus.

"The world is facing an unprecedented test," he said in a report on the socio-economic impacts of COVID-19. "We must respond decisively, innovatively and together to suppress the spread of the virus and address the socio-economic devastation that COVID-19 is causing in all regions."

"What the world needs now is solidarity," he stressed. "With solidarity we can defeat the virus and build a better world."

The UN chief said the magnitude of the response must match the scale of the crisis: large-scale, coordinated and comprehensive, with country and international responses being guided by the World Health Organization (WHO).

Guterres said that the COVID-19 pandemic is the most challenging crisis since the World War II as it represents a threat to everybody.

The pandemic "represents a threat to everybody in the world and ... it has an economic impact that will bring a recession that probably has no parallel in the recent past," Guterres said on Tuesday at the virtual press launch of the UN report "Shared responsibility, global solidarity: Responding to the socio-economic impacts of COVID-19".

The UN is setting up a Trust Fund for COVID-19 Response and Recovery to support low- and middle-income countries "to respond to the emergency and recover from the socio-economic shock," he said.

Guterres called for a coordinated and comprehensive multilateral response amounting to at least 10 percent of global gross domestic product (GDP).

The global GDP in 2018 was about $86 trillion, according to the World Bank.

Stephane Dujarric, spokesman for Guterres, later told correspondents about how the UN and its members have responded to the pandemic in several less-developed countries.

The UN Mission in Somalia called for a cessation of hostilities so that all resources and support can be channeled to the fight against COVID-19.

Emergency Medical Technicians (EMT) wearing protective gears wheel a sick patient to a waiting ambulance in New York City, New York, US, March 28, 2020. [Photo/Agencies]

The UN Support Office in Somalia and the African Union Mission in Somalia have been assisting the Somali government to respond to the first suspected COVID-19 cases, the spokesman said.

Other UN agencies and programs have helped the implementation of the COVID-19 response plan by providing technical expertise and logistics, he said.

Dujarric mentioned that the WHO continues to support the Somali health sector by scaling up its operational readiness and response to COVID-19, saying that the WHO support is essential to rapidly establishing a mechanism for testing and confirmation of suspected cases and isolating suspected cases to prevent onward transmission.

In Sudan, there were six confirmed cases of COVID-19 with two deaths, the spokesman said. "Humanitarian partners continue to support the government of Sudan to prepare and respond to the pandemic."

The UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) said that the COVID-19 pandemic has threatened the country's health system that has been gripped by other diseases.

UNICEF said the measles epidemic that began in the country last year has killed more than 5,300 children.

The UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) handed over equipment and other materials to the Naqoura Municipality, which hosts the UN mission's headquarters in south Lebanon.

UNIFIL Head of Mission and Force Commander Major General Stefano Del Col said that in these trying times, "it's imperative to care for one another," adding that "the unprecedented situation requires exceptional measures, maximum cooperation as well as a proactive approach in assisting the local population that has welcomed us since 1978."

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