UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres has called on all governments to “step up and do everything possible’’ to contain the coronavirus (COVID-19).
Addressing UN correspondents in New York on Friday, February 28, 2020, Guterres said containment of the disease was possible, “but the window of opportunity is narrowing’’.
This came shortly after the World Health Organisation (WHO) raised the risk assessment of COVID-19 to very high at the global level.
As of Friday morning, 4,351 cases had been confirmed in at least 48 countries, including 67 deaths, according to WHO Director-General, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
Nigeria confirmed its first case of the disease on Thursday.
Guterres said: “We are seeing cases in a number of new countries, including now also the African continent.
“This is not a time for panic, it is time to be prepared, fully prepared.
“As WHO Director-General Dr Tedros said, the “greatest enemy right now is not the virus.
“It is fear, rumours, and stigma.
“Now is the time for all governments to step up and do everything possible to contain the disease, and to do so without stigmatisation, and respecting human rights.”
While appealing for solidarity and full global support to countries affected, the UN chief stressed that all countries must fully assume responsibility in stopping the virus.
“As they do so, they can count on the support of the United Nations and naturally of the World Health Organisation, that is part of our family,’’ Guterres added.