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Coronavirus is the most challenging crisis since WWII, says U.N. chief

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  • United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres said on Tuesday that the novel coronavirus was “the most challenging crisis we have faced since the Second World War.”
  • Guterres said the world needed to coordinate on a two-pronged approach that both stopped the spread of the virus and addressed the dire economic fallout from the pandemic.
  • Economic relief must prioritize the world’s vulnerable populations, including women, low-wage workers, and people living in conflict zones, he said.
  • The world’s response must focus on “building more equal, inclusive and sustainable economies and societies,” Guterres said.
  • The U.N. released a 26-page report calling for coordinated health and economic measures to stop the spread and fallout of the coronavirus.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

United Nation Secretary General Antonio Guterres warned that the novel coronavirus was “the most challenging crisis we have faced since the Second World War,” and that aggressive medical and economic efforts were needed to thwart it.

“It is a combination, on one hand, of a disease that represents a threat to everybody in the world,” Guterres said at a press briefing Tuesday night. “And, second, because it has an economic impact that will bring a recession that probably has no parallel in the recent past.”

 

As of Wednesday morning, there were more than 880,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 worldwide and 44,000 deaths caused by the illness, according to Johns Hopkins University’s database.

On March 11, the World Health Organization had declared the coronavirus a pandemic. At the time, Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warned that, “this is not just a public health crisis, it is a crisis that will touch every sector.”

In his opening remarks Tuesday, Guterres said the world’s response must be two-fold. First, he said, the world needed coordinated health response that included “testing, tracing, quarantine and treatment” and “measures to restrict movement and contact.”

He also called for “universal access to treatment and vaccines” when they were ready.

But Guterres also warned of a related economic disaster, noting that the International Monetary Fund anticipated a recession worse than the 2008 financial crisis.

An accompanying 26-page report released by the U.N. called on its member nations to conduct aggressive members to restrict transmission and a “a large-scale, coordinated and comprehensive multilateral response amounting to at least 10 percent of global GDP.”

Guterres said that any economic relief must also address the world’s most vulnerable populations, including women, low-wage workers, and people living in conflict zones.

“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,” he said.

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