World leaders to hold crisis talks as virus toll tops 21,000

AFP Madrid, Spain Mar 26, 2020, 10.41 AM(IST)

Representative image Photograph:( Reuters )

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With the disease tearing around the globe at a terrifying pace, warnings are multiplying over its economic consequences, with experts saying it could cause more damage than the Great Depression.

World leaders are to hold online crisis talks Thursday on the coronavirus pandemic that has forced three billion people into lockdown and claimed more than 21,000 lives.

With the disease tearing around the globe at a terrifying pace, warnings are multiplying over its economic consequences, with experts saying it could cause more damage than the Great Depression.

Also read: US coronavirus cases near 70,000, more than 1,000 dead

And amid squabbling between the leaders of China and the US over who is to blame, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres called for the world to act together to halt the menace.

Also read: Trump requests virus test kits from South Korea: Seoul

"COVID-19 is threatening the whole of humanity -- and the whole of humanity must fight back," Guterres said, launching an appeal for $2 billion to help the world's poor.

"Global action and solidarity are crucial," he said. "Individual country responses are not going to be enough."

The death toll from the virus, which emerged in China late last year, continued to grow, with the US becoming the sixth country to hit four figures. 

At least 1,041 people are now known to have died in the United States, with almost 70,000 confirmed infections, a tally by Johns Hopkins University showed, while globally the number of infections is closing in on half a million.