Put human lives above economic targets, PM tells G20 leaders amid coronavirus fear

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PM Modi joined other G20 Leaders at the G20 Virtual Summit on coronavirus (Twitter/MEAIndia)

With countries concerned about the economic cost of the coronavirus pandemic, Prime Minister Narendra Modi Thursday appealed to G20 leaders to put "human beings rather than economic targets at centre of our vision for global prosperity and cooperation."

In a virtual interaction with world leaders of the Group of 20 nations, PM Modi also pitched developing a new crisis management protocol and procedures to deal with global health crises, besides significantly boosting the capabilities of organisations like the WHO.

He also said that G-20 should work together to reduce economic hardships, particularly of the poor nations, in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic which has killed over 22,000 people and infected more than 480,000 globally.

"In his remarks at G20 Virtual Summit, PM Modi noted the alarming social and economic cost of the pandemic. He added that 90% of the COVID-19 cases and 88% of deaths were in G20 countries, even as they share 80% of world GDP and 60% of world population," the Ministry of External Affairs said.

In a joint statement, the group said they are collectively injecting $5 trillion into the global economy to counteract the social and financial impacts of the pandemic.

The G20 leaders also agreed to take all necessary measures to contain the pandemic and supported the strengthening of WHO’s mandate in the fight against pandemics, including delivery of medical supplies, diagnostic tools, treatments, medicines and vaccines, the MEA said.

Meanwhile, World Bank President David Malpass expressed concern about the destitute in densely populated countries such as India during the coronavirus pandemic. He said the crisis will hit the poor nations that have high levels of indebtedness the hardest.

"I am particularly concerned about poor, densely populated countries such as India, where weak health systems need massively scalable investments in human capital, supplies and infrastructure. We are working hard to provide support through our public and private sector tools," Malpass said in his address to the G20 leaders.

The number of confirmed cases has neared 700 in India, including 16 deaths. The country is under a 21-day lockdown to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus. Barring essential commodities and services, almost all commercial establishments are closed and everyone has been asked to stay indoors.

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