Covid-19 could kill millions in Africa without immediate action: UN chief
United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres says he fears “millions and millions” of coronavirus cases in Africa, where the youth will not be spared. He called on wealthy countries to help the developing world, for their own sake.
Guterres told RFI that Africa should be the priority of the international community as the continent does have the resources to fight the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Ninety percent of the cases are in the G20 countries which hold 80 percent of the global economy. They shouldn't be working alone, each in their corner, but in a coordinated manner to find treatments and vaccines to put at the world's disposal,” he said.
Guterres says at least three trillion US dollars, around 10 percent of the world's GDP, is needed to slow the spread of the coronavirus for vulnerable countries in the Global South.
He backed French President Emmanuel Macron's call for the international community to make the African continent its top priority.
“This is not a financial crisis like in 2008,” he said.
According to figures published by the African Union, there are 3,924 cases of Covid-19 in Africa and 117 recorded deaths across 46 countries.
“Africa is in urgent need of test kits, masks, ventilators, protective suits for health workers," said Guterres. "We can still prevent the worst in Africa but without a massive mobilisation we will have millions and millions of people contaminated, which means millions of deaths,” adding that Africa's booming youth population will not be spared.
According to Guterres, the risk of the coronavirus mutating is higher given the fast rate at which it is spreading globally.
“As the virus mutates, all the investment we are putting into vaccines will be for nothing because the virus will then travel from the South back to the North. So it is in the interest of countries in the North to help the South,” he told RFI.
He added that the G20 could coordinate aid towards Africa, in terms of health supplies, medical treatments and financial packages.