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October 17, 2020 2:29 pm

Divided World is Failing COVID-19 Test, Says Frustrated UN Chief

avatar by Reuters and Algemeiner Staff

FILE PHOTO: United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres poses for a photograph during an interview with Reuters at UN headquarters in New York City, New York, US, September 14, 2020. Photo: REUTERS/Mike Segar

A divided world has failed to rise to the challenge of fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on Saturday and warned concerted action was needed to prevent millions of people being pushed into poverty and hunger.

The former Portuguese prime minister said far more could have been done if countries had worked together to combat the disease, which has killed more than one million people.

“The COVID-19 pandemic is a major global challenge for the entire international community, for multi-lateralism and for me, as secretary-general of the United Nations,” Guterres told Portuguese news agency Lusa.

“Unfortunately it is a test that, so far, the international community is failing.”

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He said that if coordinated measures were not taken, “a microscopic virus could push millions of people into poverty and hunger, with devastating economic effects in the years to come.”

Guterres also criticized countries for a lack of unity in trying to solve other global challenges including the conflicts in Afghanistan, Yemen and Syria.

“It is a source of enormous frustration,” he said.

More than 39 million people have been infected by COVID-19, according to a Reuters tally based on official disclosures.

Infections have been reported in more than 210 countries and territories since the first cases were identified in China in December 2019.

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