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Home / News / World /  UN chief Guterres to brief Security Council as contagion spreads

NEW DELHI : United Nations secretary general Antonio Guterres will brief the UN Security Council (UNSC) this week on the covid-19 pandemic, which has now infected more than 1.2 million people worldwide and claimed almost 70,000 lives, besides taking a major toll on the global economy.

Less certain, however, is the possibility of a UNSC meeting sought by nine of the 10 elected non-permanent members of the global high table to discuss the impact on the pandemic on peace and security, two people familiar with the matter said.

The developments came after the UN was severely criticised for its lack of leadership on matters related to the pandemic, primarily due to sniping between the US and China. In fact, the UNSC is yet to discuss the crisis.

When asked by reporters last week when he would be briefing the UNSC on the pandemic, Guterres said: “I’ve just received an invitation from the presidency of the Security Council at the request of a number of member states to brief the Council, which I will do, I believe, next week."

A UNSC notification for the coming week said: “A meeting this week on this issue (covid-19) is possible. Two draft resolutions on covid-19 are under discussion among different groups of Council members, one among the permanent members and another among the elected members."

One of the people cited above said the UNSC may not end up discussing the matter at all considering the tensions between the US and China over the origins of the pandemic. China had accused the US military of having brought the coronavirus to Wuhan, the epicentre of the outbreak.

US President Donald Trump and secretary of state Mike Pompeo have referred to the novel coronavirus as the “Chinese virus" and the “Wuhan virus" angering Beijing.

China has also been sensitive to any calls for “transparency" or any reference to “transparency" in the proposals put forward for discussions within the UNSC.

This comes on the back of heightened sensitivities over the criticism that China did not fully reveal the extent of infections in the country. Fingers are also being pointed at China for allegedly using its clout to get the World Health Organization to delay declaring covid-19 a pandemic and issuing travel advisories.

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