Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is infecting global economy as financial markets have been hard hit by the uncertainty, Secretary General of United Nations (UN) António Guterres said in a statement released by the UN office in Egypt on Sunday.
Global supply chains have been disrupted, he mentioned, saying that investment and consumer demand have plunged with a real and rising risk of a global recession.
UN economists estimate that the virus could cost the global economy at least $1 trillion this year and perhaps more, he added.
“The upheaval caused by the 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,” Guterres further added.
While virus is spreading, the danger is growing, and countries’ health systems, economies, and day-to-day lives are being severely tested, he said, adding that the most vulnerable are the most affected particularly the elderly and those with pre-existing medical conditions.
The social and economic fallout from the combination of the pandemic and slowing economies will affect most of countries for months. “The spread of the virus will peak, but our economies will recover,” Guterres said.
He also called on countries to act together to slow the spread of the virus, saying, “this is a time for prudence, not panic. Science, not stigma. Facts, not fear. Even though the situation has been declared as a pandemic, it is one we can control. We must declare war on this virus.”
“Countries have a responsibility to gear up, step up and scale up by implementing effective containment strategies, activating and enhancing emergency response systems, dramatically increasing testing capacity and care for patients, readying hospitals, ensuring they have the space, supplies and needed personnel,” he said.
Persons around the world should follow medical advice and take simple, practical steps recommended by health authorities.
More than ever, governments must cooperate to revitalise 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.
The UN including the World Health Organization is fully mobilised. “As part of our human family, we are working 24/7 with governments, providing international guidance, helping the world take on this threat,” Guterres concluded.