United Nations Secretary General António Guterres on Wednesday called the coronavirus pandemic the body’s “greatest test” since its inception.
Speaking at the UN headquarters in New York at the launch of a report on the potential socioeconomic impact of the outbreak, Mr Guterres said: “The new coronavirus disease is attacking societies at their core, claiming lives and people’s livelihoods”
“Covid-19 is the greatest test that we have faced together since the formation of the United Nations,” said the UN Chief. His address reinforced the recommendations from a UN report released Wednesday that called for a “large-scale, coordinated and comprehensive multilateral response” to the pandemic.
“This is the moment to dismantle trade barriers, maintain open trade, and re-establish supply chains,” the report stated. “Tariff and nontariff measures, as well as export bans, especially those imposed on medicinal and related products, would slow countries’ action to contain the virus. Import taxes or restrictions on medical supplies need to be waived.”
The UN report states that the response should amount to at least 10 percent of global gross domestic product. It calls for a coordinated, urgent preparation, particularly in nations that still have few or no cases, and for the protection of essential health care workers as well as knowledge-sharing in the effort to develop new diagnostics and treatments for the virus.
Collaboration among the world’s countries, as well as constantly assessing and regularly updating national strategies are crucial at this time, according to the report.
Mr Guterres urged the industrialized nations to help those less developed, or potentially “face the nightmare of the disease spreading like wildfire”. The report calls the attention of the international community that more progress in the goals of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change would have better prepared nations to address the challenge due to stronger health care infrastructure, less extreme poverty and gender inequality and a healthier natural environment.
Countries around the world have imposed a series of measures, including restricting people’s movements and closing most businesses, to curb the spread of the virus.
“We must seize the opportunity of this crisis to strengthen our commitment to implement the 2030 Agenda and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals,” the UN report states. “By making progress on our global roadmap for a more inclusive and sustainable future, we can better respond to future crises.”
The UN report estimates that up to 25 million jobs could be lost around the world as the result of the outbreak. It also projects an up to 40% “downward pressure” on global foreign direct investment flows.