Wed | May 27, 2020

World leaders vow to coordinate virus response in video call

Published:Friday | March 27, 2020 | 12:21 AM

DUBAI (AP):

The head of the United Nations told leaders of the world’s 20 major industrialised nations during an emergency virtual summit Thursday that “we are at war with a virus – and not winning it” despite dramatic measures by countries to seal their borders, shutter businesses, and enforce home isolation for well over a quarter of the world’s population.

The unusual video call in lieu of a physical gathering comes as governments around the world stress the importance of social distancing to curb the spread of the highly infectious virus, which has prompted closures, curfews and lockdowns globally.

Vowed to work together

The Group of 20 nations, criticised for not taking cohesive action against the virus or its economic impact, vowed to work together and said that they are collectively injecting more than $4.8 trillion into the global economy to counteract the social and financial impacts of the pandemic.

In a final statement after the meeting, the G20 said that they were committed to strengthening the World Health Organization’s mandate. They said that “global action, solidarity, and international cooperation” were needed more than ever, but made no specific commitments.

“The unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic is a powerful reminder of our interconnectedness and vulnerabilities,” the group said. “The virus respects no borders.”

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres urged G20 leaders to adopt a war-time plan to tackle the pandemic.

“It took the world three months to reach 100,000 confirmed cases of infection,” he said. “The next 100,000 happened in just 12 days. The third took four days. The fourth, just one and a half.”

“This is exponential growth and only the tip of the iceberg,” Guterres said, adding that countries must be able to combine systematic testing, tracing, quarantining and treatment, as well as coordinate an exit strategy to keep it suppressed until a vaccine becomes available.