GENEVA (Reuters) – The head of the World Health Organisation (WHO) told the Group of 20 wealthy nations on Thursday that the coronavirus pandemic is “accelerating at an exponential rate” and urged them to ramp up production of protective gear for health workers.

“We call on all of your nations to increase production, remove export bans and ensure equity of distribution,” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO director-general, told G20 leaders, according to a text of his speech made public by the U.N. agency.

WHO officials warned again on Wednesday that the world faced a “significant shortage” of protection equipment for health workers, particularly masks, gloves, gowns and face shields.

(Reporting by Michael Shields; editing by Stephanie Nebehay)