WHO warns G20: “We are at war”

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The leaders of the powerful G20 countries have been urged to unite to find joint solutions to the coronavirus pandemic and “ignite a new global movement” to ensure it never happens again.

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director general of the World Health Organization, urged leaders “to fight without excuses, without regrets – thanking countries who have already taken steps and urgently asking that they do more”.

A WHO press statement issued in the last few minutes added that Ghebreyesus had told G20 leaders: “You have come together to confront the defining health crisis of our time: we are at war with a virus that threatens to tear us apart – if we let it.”

He also welcomed G20 leaders’ commitment “to do whatever it takes to overcome the pandemic” to protect lives and livelihoods, as well as restore confidence and shore up stability in trade and other sectors, and to commit to take all necessary health measures and seek to ensure adequate financing to contain the pandemic and protect people, especially the most vulnerable.“

The G20 issued a largely unspecific and uncontroversial joint communique which set no specific commitments such as deferring debt repayment to the world’s poorest countries, as sought by the World Bank and the IMF.

The head of the WHO concluded his speech by making three requests of his audience.

“First, fight. Fight hard. Fight like hell,” Tedros said. “Fight like your lives depend on it – because they do.”

Urging aggressive action to to stop the virus, the WHO head said:

“Many of your countries have imposed drastic social and economic restrictions, shutting schools and businesses, and asking people to stay at home.

“These measures will take some of the heat out of the epidemic, but they will not extinguish it.

“We must do more. We must immediately build, expand, train and deploy health workers to find, test, isolate and treat every case and trace every contact. This is not an option; it’s an obligation.”

His other requests were for the world’s most influential countries, to unite in the fight against coronavirus to share strategies and resources, and to ignite their industries’ innovation, to create vaccines and therapeutics and to form “a global movement to ensure this never happens again.”

“We may speak different tongues and adhere to different creeds, but we are made of the same stuff. We are one human race,” Tedros said.

“Fight. Unite. Ignite.

“And let our singular resolve be: never again.”

Read more via NYT

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