A health worker wearing a protective suit takes a swab from a resident during a door-to-door testing in an attempt to contain the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Umlazi township near Durban, South Africa, April 4, 2020.

Rogan Ward | Reuters

A top official from the United Nations warned Friday of decades of tragedies if wealthy nations don’t help poorer nations fight the coronavirus, which continues to rapidly spread across the globe. 

“Unless we act now, we should be prepared for a series of human tragedies, more brutal and more destructive than any of the direct impacts of the virus itself,” U.N. Undersecretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Mark Lowcock told reporters on a call hosted by the World Health Organization. Inaction from world leaders will leave the coronavirus free to circle the globe and “undo decades of development and it will create decades worth of tragic and exportable problems.”

All of that is preventable, he said in a plea to wealthy nations to contribute to a $10.3 billion U.N. program to help poor nations fight the pandemic.  

“It can be fixed with money and leadership from the world’s wealthier nations and some fresh thinking,” he said. “We estimate that the cost of protecting the poorest 10% of the global population from the worst effects of the pandemic and global recession is about $90 billion. That’s less than 1% of the stimulus package wealthy countries have put in place to protect the global economy.”

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates. 

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