UN calls coronavirus 'most challenging crisis' since World War Two

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The United Nations on Wednesday called the coronavirus pandemic the "most challenging crisis" the world has faced since World War Two, and said the deadly virus is "attacking societies at their core."

U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres also pleaded for a greater global response to match the urgency brought on by the coronavirus.

"We are facing a global health crisis unlike any in the 75-year history of the United Nations -- one that is killing people, spreading human suffering and upending people's lives," he said. "But this is much more than a health crisis. It is a human crisis. The coronavirus disease is attacking societies at their core."

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"We are facing a global health crisis unlike any in the 75-year history of the United Nations - one that is killing people, spreading human suffering and upending people's lives."

— U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres 

On Wednesday, Guterres warned that the health of the global economy was also at risk and will "bring a recession that probably has no parallel in the recent past."

The grim predictions didn't end there.

Guterres said one of the cruel side effects of COVID-19 is that it could exacerbate ongoing global conflicts.

The U.N. chief presented a report that calls for a larger worldwide response to the outbreak.

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"This report is a call to action, for the immediate health response required to suppress transmission of the virus to end the pandemic; and to tackle the many social and economic dimensions of this crisis," the report said. "It is, above all, a call to focus on people – women, youth, low-wage workers, small and medium enterprises, the informal sector and on vulnerable groups who are already at risk."

Guterres said the world could defeat COVID-19 but only through a "large-scale, coordinated and comprehensive multilateral response amounting to at least 10 percent of global GDP," which is "needed now more than ever."

The report said countries affected by the coronavirus face different challenges and that each country required a "tailored response."

"The speed and scale of the spread, the severity of cases and the societal and economic disruption has already been dramatic and could be more so as if takes hold in poorer nations."

While the U.N. report praised China for sharing the genetic sequence of COVID-19, it said it was unlikely that a vaccine would be available any time soon.

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On Wednesday, there were more than 847,081 confirmed cases of coronavirus around the world. John Hopkins University expects the U.S. will surpass 200,000 cases by the end of the day. All 50 states as well as the District of Columbia now have more than 100 confirmed cases of COVID-19. There have been 4,081 deaths in the United States. The body count globally is 43,291.