'whole of humanity' at risk from pandemic

So far the coronavirus has infected more than 400,000 people worldwide and caused thousands of deaths

As coronavirus reaches war zones, UN seeks $2 billion in aid

"COVID-19 is menacing the whole of humanity, and so the whole of humanity must fight back".

Assisting the "ultra-vulnerable" - the millions upon millions of people who are least able to protect themselves - is not only "a matter of basic human solidarity" but also crucial for combating the virus, according to Mr. Guterres.

In a speech to the Group of 20 major industrialized nations on Thursday, Secretary-General Guterres appealed "for the waiving of sanctions that can undermine countries' capacity to respond to the pandemic".

Syria reported its first case of Covid-19 last week, while Gaza authorities reported two infections over the weekend.

"We are seeing huge economic stimulus plans being developed around the world and that's going to help", Lowcock said.

The estimated budget is about $ 2 billion, said the organization's secretary general, Antonio Guterres.

The UN said Wednesday the fund aims to supply tests and medical equipment to countries across Africa, Asia, the Middle East and Latin America where travel bans have blocked the arrival of necessary goods.

The amount of money sought by the plan is small compared to the $2 trillion that the United States Congress is poised to approve as a rescue effort for devastated U.S. consumers, companies and hospitals as the world's largest economy grinds to a sudden halt.

The UN plan is created to last from April to December - suggesting the UN does not see the crisis ending any time soon.

The COVID-19 global humanitarian response plan brings together requirements from the WHO, the Food and Agriculture Organization, the International Organization for Migration, the UN Development Program, the UN Population Fund, UN-Habitat, the UN Refugee Agency, and the World Food Program.

"Our priority is to help these countries prepare and continue helping the millions who rely on humanitarian assistance from the United Nations to survive", he said.

Otherwise, he said, the coronavirus pandemic could lead to rampant outbreaks of other diseases such as cholera and measles, as well as higher levels of malnutrition.

"This is the moment to step up for the vulnerable", he stated.

NGOs and NGO consortiums have been instrumental in helping shape the plan and conveying local actors' perspectives, and they will play a direct role in service delivery.

This ensures complementarity, synergy, gaps and needs identification, and a coordinated response.

In a joint letter obtained by The Associated Press, the ambassadors from China, Cuba, North Korea, Iran, Nicaragua, Russia, Syria and Venezuela urged the United Nations chief to "reject the politicization of such a pandemic".

The agency head sent a clear message to all countries to "heed this warning now, back this plan politically and financially today and we can save lives and slow the spread of this pandemic".

But under the second model, the pandemic spreads quickly in countries that are poor or developing, mainly in Africa, Asia and parts of the Americas.

"This leads to longer periods of closed borders and limited freedom of movement, further contributing to a global slowdown that is already under way", said the UN.

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