U.N.: COVID-19 is 'greatest test' since World War II

April 1 (UPI) -- The coronavirus pandemic is "the greatest test" the world has faced since the second world war, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said during a call to action for everyone the globe over to work together to fight COVID-19.

"This human crisis demands coordinated, decisive, inclusive and innovative policy action from the world's leading economies -- and maximum financial and technical support for the poorest and most vulnerable people and countries," he said.


The secretary-general made the remarks while unveiling a report published Tuesday responding to the socio-economic impacts of COVID-19, which warned the pandemic is "a defining moment for modern society, and history will judge the efficacy of our response" not by a single country but by the global community.

In the report, the U.N. said the shared responsibility to fight COVID-19 calls for suppressing the transmission of the virus, safeguarding people's lives and their livelihoods and learning from this human crisis to build a better future.

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The pandemic, which began as an outbreak in Wuhan, China, in December, has spread worldwide, infecting more than 860,000 people and causing more than 42,000 deaths, according to a COVID-19 tracker map by Johns Hopkins University.

To fulfill these shared responsibilities, the U.N. is calling for the world to mount "the most robust and cooperative health response the world has ever seen," to coordinate a large-scale multilateral drive to protect those most at risk amounting to at least 10 percent of global GDP and to seize upon this crisis to strengthen global commitment to implement the U.N.'s 2030 Agenda and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals.

"The recovery from the COVID-19 crisis must lead to a different economy," Guterres said. "Everything we do during and after this crisis must be with a strong focus on building more equal, inclusive and sustainable economies and societies that are more resilient in the face of pandemics, climate change and the many other global challenges we face."

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The U.N. report estimates the pandemic could cause the loss of up to 25 million jobs, the loss of up to $3.4 trillion in labor income and the decline in international arrivals by 30 percent. It could also result in 1.5 billion students out of school.

Guterres called on developed nations to aid those that are less developed to bolster their health systems or "face the nightmare of the disease spreading like wildfire in the global south with millions of deaths and the prospect of the disease re-emerging where it was previously suppressed."

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