More anti-virus measures, global solidarity needed to fight COVID-19

Antonio Guterres, UN chief

Amid rising COVID-19 cases and deaths globally, many countries have unleashed more anti-virus measures, while international organisations have called for global solidarity in confronting the common challenge of mankind.

United Nations Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, said global solidarity is not only a moral imperative, “it is in everyone’s interests.

“We are facing a global health crisis unlike any in the 75-year history of the United Nations, one that is spreading human suffering, infecting the global economy and upending people’s lives’’.

In Europe, more than 40 countries were hit by COVID-19, and over 100,000 people across the continent had tested positive for the virus as of Thursday evening.

In response, many nations have ramped up their measures to contain the virus.

Italy Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, on Thursday, said that the nationwide lockdown, which has been in place from March 10 to April 3 to stem the spreading coronavirus, will be extended.

Italy is the hardest-hit country in Europe with 41,035 cases and 3,405 deaths as of Thursday.

In France, which reported more than 10,000 cases on Thursday for the first time, President Emmanuel Macron on the same day pledged to invest five billion euros ($5.35 billion) over the next decade to boost scientific research against the coronavirus pandemic.

In the U.S. where the number of COVID-19 cases has reached 13,680 with 200 deaths, the U.S. State Department, on Thursday, raised its travel advisory to Level four, by instructing its citizens to avoid all international travel.

In Iran, the worst-hit country in the Middle East, authorities have advised people to stay at home in voluntary quarantine and avoid unnecessary outings and travel during the holidays of the Iranian New Year, which starts on Friday.

The death toll from COVID-19 in Iran as of Thursday soared to 1,284, with the total number of cases surging to 18,407.

In the Asia-Pacific region, some countries including Australia, New Zealand, Cambodia and Myanmar have closed their borders on Thursday to contain the COVID-19 spread, while South Korea announced an emergency financial aid package for small businesses.

In Africa, Kenya on Thursday announced comprehensive safety measures in the public transport sector to curb the spread of COVID-19 in the country.

Calling for strengthening solidarity, amid the rapid spread of COVID-19, World Health Organisation (WHO) Director-General, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, on Thursday said solidarity is the only way to defeat the common and invisible enemy against humanity.

Speaking at his weekly mission briefing on COVID-19, Tedros said that WHO has shipped personal protective equipment to 68 countries and regions, as well as 1.5 million diagnostic kits to 120 countries and regions.

A list of agreed suppliers in China is available now, said Tedros, adding that certain medical equipment will be permitted to be exported from China to the WHO.

As many countries are facing a dire shortage of protective equipment against the pandemic, China is showing solidarity by sending experts and medical supplies to countries around the world.

In Zaragoza, a city in north-eastern Spain, the first aid package of 500,000 masks from China donated by the Jack Ma Foundation and the Alibaba Foundation arrived at the Zaragoza airport on Tuesday, and 50,000 testing kits will follow.

Also in Malaysia, the first batch of medical supplies, including 5,000 face masks and 10,000 surgical masks, donated by the Chinese embassy and Chinese companies in the country were delivered to hospitals on Thursday.

Guterres on Thursday called on world leaders to “come together and offer an urgent and coordinated response to this global crisis.’’

“We need to immediately move away from a situation where each country is undertaking its own health strategies to one that ensures, in full transparency, a coordinated global response, including helping countries that are less prepared to tackle the crisis,’’ he said. (Xinhua/NAN)