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Tuesday, March 17, 2020, 09:39
UN chief: We will get through the pandemic together
By António Guterres
Tuesday, March 17, 2020, 09:39 By António Guterres

In this file photo taken on Feb 24, 2020 UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres speaks during an update on the situation regarding the COVID-19 in the SHOC room (Strategic health operations centre) at the World Health Organization (WHO) headquarters in Geneva. (SALVATORE DI NOLFI / POOL / AFP)

The upheaval caused by the novel coronavirus — COVID-19 — is all around us. And I know many are anxious, worried and confused. That’s absolutely natural.

We are facing a health threat unlike any other in our lifetimes. The virus is spreading, the danger is growing, and our health systems, economies and day-to-day lives are being severely tested.

We can slow down transmissions, prevent infections and save lives. But that will take unprecedented personal, national and international action

The most vulnerable are the most affected — particularly our elderly and those with pre-existing medical conditions, those without access to reliable healthcare, and those in poverty or living on the edge.

The social and economic fallout from the combination of the pandemic and slowing economies will affect most of us for some months.

READ MORE: Epidemic changes daily lives of people who now cook their own meals

But the spread of the virus will peak. Our economies will recover. Until then, we must act together to slow the spread of the virus and look after each other.

This is a time for prudence, not panic. Science, not stigma. Facts, not fear.

Even though the situation has been declared a pandemic, it is one we can control. We can slow down transmissions, prevent infections and save lives. But that will take unprecedented personal, national and international action.

COVID-19 is our common enemy. We must declare war on this virus. That means countries have a responsibility to gear up, step up and scale up.

How? By implementing effective containment strategies, by activating and enhancing emergency response systems, by dramatically increasing the testing capacity and care for patients, by readying hospitals, ensuring they have the space, supplies and needed personnel, and by developing life-saving medical interventions.

United Nations economists estimate the virus could cost the global economy at least US$1 trillion this year, perhaps far more

All of us have a responsibility, too — to follow medical advice and take simple, practical steps recommended by health authorities.

In addition to being a public health crisis, the virus is also infecting the global economy.

Financial markets have been hard hit by the uncertainty. Global supply chains have been disrupted. Investment and consumer demand have plunged — with a real and rising risk of a global recession.

United Nations economists estimate the virus could cost the global economy at least US$1 trillion this year, perhaps far more.

ALSO READ: WHO: Europe is new epicenter of coronavirus pandemic

No country can do it alone. More than ever, governments must cooperate to revitalize economies, expand public investment, boost trade, and ensure targeted support for the people and communities most affected by the disease or more vulnerable to the negative economic impacts — including women who often shoulder a disproportionate burden of care work.

A pandemic drives home the essential interconnectedness of our human family. Preventing the further spread of COVID-19 is a shared responsibility for us all.

The United Nations — including the World Health Organization — is fully mobilized. As part of our human family, we are working 24x7 with governments, providing international guidance, helping the world take on this threat.

We are in this together — and we will get through this, together.

The author is secretary-general of the United Nations.

The opinions expressed here are those of the writer and do not represent the views of China Daily.

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