Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison (Top-R) is seen on a screen attending a videoconference with G20 leaders to discuss the COVID-19, at the Parliament House in Canberra on Thursday. AFP
G20 nations pledged a “united front” on Thursday in the fight against coronavirus, saying they were injecting $5 trillion into the global economy to counter the pandemic amid forecasts of a deep recession.
US President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin joined the emergency videoconference chaired by the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Salman Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud of Saudi Arabia, who called for coordinated action.
“We are strongly committed to presenting a united front against this common threat,” the leaders said in a joint statement after the summit. “We are injecting over $5 trillion into the global economy, as part of targeted fiscal policy, economic measures, and guarantee schemes to counteract the social, economic and financial impacts of the pandemic.”
His Highness Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, participated in the G20 Extraordinary Virtual Leaders’ Summit, headed by King Salman.
During the summit, Sheikh Mohamed stressed the need for more international cooperation and solidarity to tackle coronavirus, adding that the whole world is going through unprecedented conditions due to the spread of the virus and its transformation into a global pandemic, which affects all aspects of life around the world.
He also thanked Saudi Arabia and King Salman for organising the G20 summit, to strengthen the international efforts to prevent the spread of coronavirus. Holding the summit highlighted the awareness of G20 members of the gravity of the situation and their international responsibilities during this critical period, he added.
Indicating that there are societies that require help and support, Sheikh Mohamed said it was necessary to stand by them and extend assistance to them. He said the belief in the unity of destiny is embodied in humanity in its strongest form, because danger targets everyone without exception.
Sheikh Mohamed noted that since the outset of the COVID-19, the UAE has been keen to ensure full solidarity and cooperation with all other countries addressing the impact of the virus outbreak.
“We’ve called for strengthening the role played by relevant multilaterals, primarily the United Nations in addressing the crisis,” he added.
As concerns mount for poorer countries without access to capital markets or adequate health facilities, G20 leaders also pledged to work with bodies such as the International Monetary Fund to deploy a “robust” financial package to support developing nations.
“It is our responsibility to extend a helping hand to developing countries and (the) least developed countries to enable them to build their capacities and improve their infrastructure to overcome this crisis and its repercussions,” King Salman said.
“We must have an effective and coordinated response to this pandemic,” the Saudi King said. “On the trade front, the G20 must send a strong signal to restore confidence in the global economy by resuming, as soon as possible, the normal flow of goods and services, especially vital medical supplies.” The G20, currently chaired by Saudi Arabia.
Some member countries have announced economic stimulus packages to offset broad suspensions of air travel and shutdowns of many businesses.
World Health Organisation director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus was to address the G20 to seek support for ramping up funding and production of personal protection equipment for health workers amid a global shortage.
“We have a global responsibility as humanity and especially those countries like the G20,” Tedros told a news conference in Geneva late on Wednesday. “They should be able to support countries all over the world.”
King Salman urged cooperation in financing research and development for therapeutics and a vaccine, ensuring the availability of vital medical supplies and equipment, and helping less developed countries build capacities.
Chinese President Xi Jinping followed him, advocating joint macroeconomic policies to stop the world from entering recession and stabilise the global industrial supply chain by facilitating trade and removing barriers.
Also during the day, the Red Cross appealed for nearly $825 million to help the world’s most vulnerable communities face the challenges posed by the new coronavirus pandemic.
It came a day after the United Nations launched its own COVID-19 humanitarian response plan calling for $2 billion to help the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people.
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) said that “while COVID-19 is already a global pandemic, it is still possible to reduce its spread and the number of lives lost by improving access to critical resources.”
The Geneva-based organisations launched their joint appeal for 800 million Swiss francs ($823 million).
WAM / Agencies
With the disease tearing around the globe and three billion people locked down, countries are desperate to find ways to stop its terrifying spread and deal with a shock that could surpass the Great Depression.
A city in China's Hubei province, the epicentre of the global coronavirus epidemic, will pay residents as much as 10,000 yuan ($1,425.96) if they proactively report symptoms of the illness and it is confirmed after testing.
Qianjiang, a city of around one million people located about 150km from the stricken provincial capital of Wuhan, has reported a total of 197 cases so far and is stepping up efforts to ensure its infected people are confined and treated.
Anger has been building up against the authorities in China over their early handling of the coronavirus outbreak, which has killed more than 3,300 people globally, most of them in China. The Fujian provincial government said that as of Friday, the province had 296 cases of coronavirus and 10,819 people had been placed under observation after being classified as suspected close contacts.
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