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UN Secretary General: Coronavirus spread because countries failed to work together

António Guterres was critical of the lack of leadership in response to Covid-19.

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres bemoaned the lack of leadership and cooperation in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.
United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres bemoaned the lack of leadership and cooperation in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.
Image: AAP/PA Images

UN SECRETARY GENERAL António Guterres has said that the Covid-19 pandemic was worsened by a lack of cooperation between countries. 

In an interview with the BBC, Guterres criticised the lack of leadership shown by countries and said the failure of states to come together in the face of the virus had helped Covid-19 spread across the world. 

“The world was not able to come together and to face Covid-19 in an articulated, coordinated way. Each country went with its own policy, different countries with different perspectives, different strategies. And this has allowed the virus to spread,” he said. 

Calling the impact of the virus “devastating”, he said that it was “obvious that we lack leadership”. 

“That can only be possible if the key countries in the world, the key powers in the world, are able to come together and to have a common strategy and then to bring with them whole of the international community,” Guterres said. 

Asked about Donald Trump’s decision to suspend funding to the World Health Organisation, Guterres said: “I believe that it’s essential to keep as maximum as possible resources within WHO. Because in the present situation, for the reasons I invoked, it’s impossible to replace it in providing support, especially to developing countries.”

He said that richer nations needed to support developing countries in tackling the virus as a matter of “self-interest”.

“The global north cannot defeat Covid-19 without the global south defeating it at the same time,” he said. 

According to the John Hopkins University, there are over 3.25 million cases of Covid-19 around the world, with the US and Europe at the centre of the outbreak. 

However, there are fears about the impact if the the virus spreads widely through developing countries in Africa. 

Guterres said that the pandemic did offer some signs of hope for the future for better international cooperation. 

“This is a tragedy, but it could also be an opportunity. An opportunity in relation to climate change, an opportunity in relation to the inequalities that prevail in the world, to the gaps that exist in our social protection systems, an opportunity to rebuild differently,” he said. 

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