UN chief appeals for 'responsible' pandemic leadership

United Nations (United States) (AFP) –

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The secretary-general of the UN, Antonio Guterres, called Tuesday for "responsible leadership" in a message released to mark the stunning one million deaths globally from Covid-19.

"Our world has reached an agonizing milestone: the loss of one million lives from the COVID-19 pandemic," Guterres said in the statement.

"It's a mind-numbing figure. And still there is no end in sight to the spread of the virus, the loss of jobs, the disruption of education, the upheaval to our lives," he continued.

The world "can overcome this challenge," Guterres said.

"But we must learn from the mistakes. Responsible leadership matters. Science matters. Cooperation matters -- and misinformation kills," he warned.

As anger stays high in many countries over social distancing measures, he urged populations to hold the course.

"Keeping physical distance. Wearing a mask. Washing hands. A vaccine must be available and affordable to all," he said.

The coronavirus pandemic has caused at least 1,005,981 deaths worldwide since the outbreak began in China in December last year, according to a compilation of official figures by AFP at 1100 GMT.