World Politics

G20 leaders vow to coordinate virus fight

The United Nations Chief has told G20 leaders during an emergency virtual summit that “we are at war with a virus – and not winning it” despite dramatic measures to seal borders, shutter businesses and enforce home isolation for well over a quarter of the world’s population.

The Group of 20 nations, criticised for not taking cohesive action against the virus or its economic impact, vowed to work together and said 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 they were committed to strengthening the World Health Organisation’s mandate. They said “global action, solidarity and international cooperation” were needed more than ever, but made no specific commitments.

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.”

Guterres said 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.

President Donald Trump was shown seated at the end of a long conference table in Washington with other American officials in photos shared on social media by the Saudi Foreign Ministry.

“We talked about the problem. And hopefully it won’t be a problem for too much longer,” Trump said about the call.

“Tremendous spirit among all of those countries at 20 countries. … A tremendous spirit to get this over with.”

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called on G20 leaders to use all available “humanitarian aid financing resources” to help Syrians and other people in war-torn regions, who are most disadvantaged by the outbreak.

The virtual summit additionally included leaders from the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, International Labour Organisation and others.

The IMF has said it stands “ready to deploy” all of its $1 trillion lending capacity, with nearly 80 countries currently requesting help.

Ethiopia’s government told G20 finance ministers in a call ahead of Thursday’s summit that Africa needs a $150 billion emergency financing package due to the impact of the virus.

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