United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Thursday said that the world faces its gravest test from the coronavirus pandemic that poses a significant threat to the maintenance of international peace and security. Also Read - Odisha Lockdown: COVID-19 Patients Can Now be Admitted to Private Hospitals For Treatment

The Secretary-General said the pandemic could potentially lead “to an increase in social unrest and violence that would greatly undermine our ability to fight the disease.” He also urged the members of the Security Council to display unity. Also Read - IPL 2020: From Cheerleaders to WAGS, Things You Will Not See During T20 Tournament in UAE Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

“To prevail against the pandemic today, we will need to work together. That means heightened solidarity,” he said during a closed video-teleconferencing session of the Security Council, which held its first meet on the coronavirus ever since the pandemic that has claimed over 1.5 million lives and infected 90,000 people worldwide. Also Read - COVID-19 Vaccine to Cost Less Than Rs 250 Per Dose: Serum Institute

“Every country is now grappling with or poised to suffer devastating consequences of the COVID19 Pandemic; tens of thousands of lost lives; broken families; overwhelmed hospitals and overworked essential workers,” the Secretary-General said in his remarks to the Security Council on the COVID-19 Pandemic.

The virus had originated in China’s Wuhan last year.

“We are all struggling to absorb the unfolding shock: the jobs that have disappeared and businesses that have suffered; the fundamental and drastic shift to our daily lives, and the fear that the worst is still yet to come, especially in the developing world and countries already battered by armed conflict. While the COVID-19 pandemic is first and foremost a health crisis, its implications are much more far-reaching,” he said.

Guterres identified eight risks which he said are particularly pressing including — the COVID-19 pandemic threatens to further erode trust in public institutions, economic fallout of this crisis could create major stressors, the postponement of elections or referenda among others.

In some conflict settings, he said, the uncertainty created by the pandemic may create incentives for some actors to promote further division and turmoil. The UN Secretary-General said this could lead to an escalation of violence and possibly devastating miscalculations, which could further entrench ongoing wars and complicate efforts to fight the pandemic. Highlighting that the threat of terrorism remains alive, he said terrorist groups may see a window of opportunity to strike while the attention of most governments is turned towards the pandemic.

“The weaknesses and lack of preparedness exposed by this pandemic provide a window onto how a bioterrorist attack might unfold – and may increase its risks. Non-state groups could gain access to virulent strains that could pose similar devastation to societies around the globe,” he said. The Secretary-General also underlined that the crisis has hindered international, regional and national conflict resolution efforts, exactly when they are needed most.

According to the John Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center, the number of people infected with the virus has exceeded 1.5 million with 95,000 deaths.

Stressing that the engagement of the Security Council will be critical to mitigate the peace and security implications of the COVID-19 pandemic, he said: “To prevail against the pandemic today, we will need to work together. That means heightened solidarity.” “And it means having the necessary resources. The financial situation of the United Nations remains perilous, and we have only enough cash to fund peacekeeping operations through the end of June and limited capacity to pay troop- and police-contributing countries. This is the fight of a generation — and the raison d’etre of the United Nations itself.”

The Secretary-General also offered condolences to all countries for their losses from the disease.

Since the global outbreak of COVID-19, the 15-member Security Council has not met even once or come up with a united response or resolution to the pandemic, mostly due to a stand-off between the US and China over the origin of the virus.