By Gwladys Fouche
OSLO (Reuters) – The United Nations will create a fund to prevent the spread of coronavirus and support the treatment of patients worldwide, Norway said on Monday.
The purpose of the fund is to assist developing countries with weak health systems in addressing the crisis as well as to tackle the long-term consequences. The United Nations could make a formal announcement this week, the ministry said.
Norway, which suggested the fund, has not committed how much money it would put into the initiative, similar to a 2014 United Nations Ebola Response Fund.
“We want to make sure that the efforts are as unified as possible and as early as possible so that we can answer up to the demands that countries will have, especially the poorest countries,” Foreign Minister Ine Eriksen Soereide told Reuters.
Almost 340,000 people have been infected by the novel coronavirus across the world and more than 14,500 have died, with deaths in Italy surpassing the toll in China, where the outbreak began, according to a Reuters tally.
In Africa, Angola, Eritrea and Uganda have confirmed their first cases, while Mauritius recorded its first death as the virus spreads across the continent despite efforts by governments to hold it back.
In the Middle East, the first two cases of coronavirus were confirmed in the densely populated Gaza Strip on Sunday.
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Thursday called on wealthy countries to not just think about their citizens but help less-prepared nations tackle the crisis.
“A wealthy country must not be convinced that it has only to deal with its own citizens. It’s in the interests of a wealthy country to contribute to a global response because the crisis can come from wherever, at any moment,” he told reporters.
(Editing by Terje Solsvik)