UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Thursday warned that millions of people could die from the new coronavirus, particularly in poor countries, if it is allowed to spread unchecked.

The UN chief also appealed for a coordinated global response to the pandemic.

“If we let the virus spread like wildfire — especially in the most vulnerable regions of the world — it would kill millions of people,” Guterres further added.

“Global solidarity is not only a moral imperative, it is in everyone’s interests,” he said.

Guterres stressed the need for a coordinated global response to contain a “health catastrophe” that already has claimed the lives of more than 9,000 people and infected more than 217,500 around the world.

“We need to immediately move away from a situation where each country is undertaking its own health strategies to one that ensures, in full transparency, a coordinated global response, including helping countries that are less prepared to tackle the crisis,” he said.

Earlier this month, estimates published by United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) said that the slowdown of manufacturing in China due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak is disrupting world trade and could result in a $50 billion decrease in exports across global value chains.

Among the most affected economies are the European Union ($15.6 billion), the United States ($5.8 billion), Japan ($5.2 billion), South Korea ($3.8 billion), Taiwan Province of China ($2.6 billion) and Vietnam ($2.3 billion). The trade impact for Indonesia is $312 million.

In terms of support for the global economy, Guterres said the focus should be on helping the most vulnerable: low income workers and small and medium-sized businesses.

“That means wage support, insurance, social protection, preventing bankruptcies and job loss,” he said.

Financial facilities are needed to support countries in difficulty, he said, adding that the IMF, World Bank and other international institutions have a key role to play.

(With inputs from inputs)