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The Latest: 'Bolder measures:' Africans seek help for virus

The Latest from the U.N. General Assembly (all times EDT):

10 a.m.

African nations have come out swinging on the third day of the United Nations annual gathering of world leaders, calling for dramatic fiscal measures to help the continent’s economies survive the coronavirus pandemic.

They seek debt cancellation to free up more resources to tackle the virus and its effects, including the fight against other deadly diseases.

“We need to purely and simply cancel this debt,” said Niger’s president, Issoufou Mahamadou.

The president of Ivory Coast, one of the world’s fastest-growing economies before the pandemic, called for the extension of a debt moratorium and the issue of special drawing rights at the International Monetary Fund.

“I call on all Africa’s partners to take bolder measures,” Alassane Ouattara said, noting that the fight against COVID-19 and its economic effects has represented 5% of the country’s GDP.

African nations estimate they need $100 billion in support annually for the next three years, pointing out it’s a fraction of the trillions of dollars some richer countries are using to revive their economies.

9:49 a.m.

The United Nations chief says the world failed to cooperate in tackling the COVID-19 pandemic, and if its response to the climate crisis is equally poor “I fear the worst.”

Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told the U.N. Security Council that the “”tiny microscopic virus is now the number one threat in our world.” He blamed a lack of global preparedness, cooperation, unity and solidarity for the international community's failure.

The council met Thursday on the sidelines of the General Assembly’s annual gathering of world leaders — both held virtually because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Guterres pointed to the nearly one million deaths and 30 million infections around the world and warned that the coronavirus remains out of control.

“As countries go in different directions, the virus goes in every direction,” he said.

Guterres called for global cooperation among nations, global and regional organizations, international financial institutions, trade alliances and others. He said the idea of global governance must be broadened “to take in businesses, civil society, cities and regions, academia and young people.”

Guterres said COVID-19 is a warning “that must spur us to action.”

“We have no choice,” he said. “Either we come together in global institutions that are fit for purpose, or we will be crushed by divisiveness and chaos.”