GENEVA : The WHO and IMF chiefs insisted last Friday that saving lives was a ''prerequisite'' to saving livelihoods in the coronavirus pandemic - a crisis they called ''one of humans darkest hours.

World Health Organization director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and International Monetary Fund managing director Kristalina Georgieva said getting the COVID-19 virus under control first was necessary - to revive economic activity - though they admitted it was difficult to strike the right balance.

The world economy has been pummelled by the virus and the associated lockdown, with more than half the population of the planet under some kind of stay at-home order to stem the spread of the pandemic.

Covid-19 has killed more than 50,000 people, while more than a million have tested positive for the virus:

''As the world responds to COVID-19, country after country is faced with the need to contain the spread of the virus at the cost of bringing its society and economy to a standstill,'' Tedros and Georgieva wrote in a joint article in the British newspaper The Daily Telegraph.

''At face value there is a trade-off to make : either save lives or save livelihoods. This is a false dilemma - getting the virus under control is, if anything, a prerequisite to saving livelihoods.''

That pair said that in too many countries - notable poorer ones - the health systems were ''unprepared for an onslaught'' of COVID-19 patients and urge states to prioritize spending on healthcare.

''The course of the global health crisis and the fate of the global economy are inseparably intertwined. Fighting the pandemic is a necessity for the economy to rebound,'' they wrote.

''Our joint appeal is that in one of humanity's darkest hours, leaders must step right now for living in emerging markets.''

They said economic was ''plummeting as infections and pandemic control measures affected workers, companies and supply chains, while financial conditions were tightening off. [AFP]


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