As the unprecedented outbreak of deadly coronavirus continues to tighten its grip worldwide, the United Nations Security Council’s Chinese presidency cancelled body’s two meetings on March 16 which were scheduled this week. The diplomatic sources of an international agency revealed that it was in the wake of the pandemic that the body made the decision after earlier only cancelling the meeting planned for March 17.
However, according to reports, before the recent revelation, the UN was still planning to discuss the situation of Darfur in Sudan on March 18 and multilateralism on March 19. Because the Chinese mission currently holds the rotating presidency of the UNSC, it was not possible to confirm the cancellations on March 15. It was reportedly the diplomats from other countries who have confirmed the decision.
United Nations spokesperson Stephane Dujarric told the reporters that a positive case of the fatal virus, which was originated in China in December 2019, has been identified among the staff members at the UN Secretariat after a diplomat from the Philippines was confirmed to have contracted COVID-19, last week.
However, the UN building still remains open and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres was reportedly in his office on March 15. But Dujarric said that the usual number of people who enter the UN headquarters in New York City has shrunk from several thousand per day to only some 900 people. The Chinese mission reportedly said that the UNSC is still “still functioning” irrespective of the recent cancellations of meetings in the upcoming week.
The mission also said in a statement that the members of the council are still maintaining “communication and consultation” on certain issues on the agenda with a view to take necessary actions in a bid to fulfil the mandate of the Council.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has declared the coronavirus as a global pandemic after the virus spread to more than 162 countries, resulting in the deaths of more than 7,100 people worldwide. WHO chief Tedros Adhanom further even urged all nations to get very serious over the issue and take all necessary measures to contain the virus from spreading at this rate. Tedros said, that the word 'Pandemic' cannot be used lightly or carelessly due to its strong connotation.
However, Tedros also said that the coronavirus outbreak is a "controllable pandemic". According to a statement released by the World Health Organisation, Tedros outlined two main reasons as to why the decision was taken to describe the epidemic as a pandemic. Tedros said that one reason was the speed and scale of transmission and the others was because 'countries are not approaching this threat with the level of political commitment needed to control it'.