United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called on the Group of Twenty nations to lift all sanctions against other countries in the wake of the novel coronavirus pandemic.
“I am encouraging the waiving of sanctions imposed on countries to ensure access to food, essential health supplies, and COVID-19 medical support. This is the time for solidarity not exclusion,” he wrote in a letter to the G20 leaders circulated on Tuesday.
“I urge G-20 leaders to commit to ban tariffs, quotas or non-tariff measures, and remove restrictions on cross border trade that affect the deployment of medical equipment, medicines and other essential goods to fight the epidemic,” the message says.
Earlier in the day, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet called for easing or lifting sanctions off a number of countries hit by the novel coronavirus pandemic, including Iran, Venezuela, Cuba, Zimbabwe and North Korea. “Humanitarian exemptions to sanctions measures should be given broad and practical effect, with prompt, flexible authorization for essential medical equipment and supplies,” she stressed.
A pneumonia outbreak caused by the COVID-19 virus (previously known as 2019-nCoV) was reported in China’s city of Wuhan, a large trade and industrial center with a population of 11 million, in late December 2019. Cases of the new coronavirus have also been reported from more than 190 countries, including Russia, which by now has 495 cases, with 22 patients having recovered. According to the latest update, the novel coronavirus cases across the globe have neared 400,420, with about 17,450 deaths. The World Health Organization (WHO) has officially described the situation with the novel coronavirus as a pandemic.