March 21 (TheStraitsTime) – The coronavirus is now infecting people at a faster pace: It took three months for the first 100,000 cases, but only 12 days for the next 100,000 on Wednesday, said the World Health Organisation.
By yesterday, the global tally had gone up by more than 50,000 to surpass 250,000 cases.
If the coronavirus is allowed to spread unchecked, millions of people could die from it, particularly in poor countries, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned, appealing for a coordinated global response to the pandemic.
“If we let the virus spread like wildfire – especially in the most vulnerable regions of the world – it would kill millions of people,” he said on Thursday.
“Global solidarity is not only a moral imperative, it is in everyone’s interests.”
He stressed the need for a coordinated global response to contain a “health catastrophe” that has now claimed the lives of more than 10,400 people around the world.
“We need to immediately move away from a situation where each country is undertaking its own health strategies to one that ensures, in full transparency, a coordinated global response, including helping countries that are less prepared to tackle the crisis,” he said.
The UN chief appealed to Group of 20 (G-20) nations to help out.
“A wealthy country must not be convinced that it has only to deal with its own citizens,” said Mr Guterres. “My very strong appeal to the G-20 is to have a particular concern with African countries and others in the developing world. We must absolutely be strong in supporting them.
“If that support is denied, we could have catastrophic consequences. We could have millions of people dying, and this is absolutely unacceptable.”
Mr Guterres urged governments to give the strongest support to the multilateral effort to fight the virus, led by the World Health Organisation, whose appeals must be fully met.
“The health catastrophe makes clear that we are only as strong as the weakest health system,” he said.
In terms of support for the global economy, he said the focus should be on low-income workers as well as small and medium-sized businesses. “That means wage support, insurance, social protection, preventing bankruptcies and job loss,” he added.
Financial facilities are needed to support countries in difficulty, he said, adding that the International Monetary Fund, World Bank and other international institutions have a key role to play.
“And we must refrain from the temptation of resorting to protectionism,” he said. “This is the time to dismantle trade barriers and re-establish supply chains.”
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, BLOOMBERG