Coronavirus worst global crisis since WWII, says UN chief
WASHINGTON—The global death toll from the coronavirus pandemic continued to worsen on Wednesday despite unprecedented lockdowns, as the head of the United Nations sounded the alarm on what he said was humanity’s worst crisis since World War II.The warning came as Donald Trump told Americans to brace for a “very painful” few weeks after the United States registered its deadliest 24 hours of the crisis.
The number of deaths in the United States on Wednesday topped 4,000, twice the 2,010 recorded late Saturday, Johns Hopkins data showed.
Members of Trump’s coronavirus task force said the country should be ready for between 100,000 and 240,000 deaths in the coming months.
Around half of the planet’s population is under some form of lockdown as governments struggle to halt the spread of a disease that has now infected more than 840,000 people. Well over 40,000 are known to have died, half of them in Italy and Spain, but the death toll continues to rise with new records being logged daily in the United States.
“This is going to be a very painful—a very, very painful—two weeks,” the president said at the White House as he described the pandemic as “a plague.” “I want every American to be prepared for the hard days that lie ahead.”
The extraordinary economic and political upheaval spurred by the virus presents a real danger to the relative peace the world has seen over the last few decades, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said on Tuesday.
The “disease … represents a threat to everybody in the world and … an economic impact that will bring a recession that probably has no parallel in the recent past,” he said.
“The combination of the two facts and the risk that it contributes to enhanced instability, enhanced unrest, and enhanced conflict are things that make us believe that this is the most challenging crisis we have faced since the Second World War,” he said at the launch of a report on the socioeconomic impacts of COVID-19.
Guterres called for a much stronger and more effective global response to the coronavirus pandemic and to the social and economic devastation that COVID-19 is causing.
“We are facing a global health crisis unlike any in the 75-year history of the United Nations—one that is killing people, spreading human suffering, and upending people’s lives,” the report said. “But this is much more than a health crisis. It is a human crisis. The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is attacking societies at their core.”
The secretary general told reporters: “The magnitude of the response must match the scale of the crisis—large-scale, coordinated and comprehensive, with country and international responses being guided by the World Health Organization.”
He stressed that “we are still very far from where we need to be to effectively fight the COVID-19 worldwide and to be able to tackle the negative impacts on the global economy and the global societies.”
First, he said, many countries are not respecting WHO guidelines, with each tending to go its own way in dealing with the pandemic.
Secondly, he said, while $5 trillion has been mobilized, most of that money was by the developed world—including $2 trillion in the United States—to support their own economies from the consequences of the pandemic.
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