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UN chief urges $2 billion for vulnerable nations with virus

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres speaks during an update on the situation regarding the COVID-19 at the World Health Organization headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, on Feb. 24, 2020.

SALVATORE DI NOLFI/KEYSTONE /AP

By ASSOCIATED PRESS Published: March 25, 2020

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UNITED NATIONS — United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres launched a $2 billion appeal on Wednesday to help vulnerable and conflict-torn countries in the Middle East, Asia, Africa and South America tackle the coronavirus pandemic and prevent COVID-19 from again circling the globe.

The U.N, chief called the amount a "drop in the ocean," noting that the U.S. Senate is seeking $2 trillion — "1,000 times more" — for the U.S. economy.

U.N. humanitarian chief Mark Lowcock announced a $60 million contribution from the U.N.'s emergency relief fund to kick-start the appeal.

 Guterres said the $2 billion is essential to keep economies in the developing world going so their health systems remain afloat to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. He said the money will also help countries already in the midst of a humanitarian crisis caused by conflicts, natural disasters and climate change.

 "The worst thing that could happen," the secretary-general said, "is to suppress the disease in developed countries and let it spread like fire in the developing world where then millions of transmissions will take place, millions of people will die, and the risk of mutations would be there, which means that the virus could come back."
 

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