Governments in wealthy nations are struggling to cope with COVID-19, suggesting the poorest countries may be hit far harder if the virus gains a foothold there, a United Nations official said.
Mami Mizutori, head of the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction, said health services in developed countries were under stress and did not have enough equipment to treat people in need as the numbers infected rose rapidly.
East Asia, Iran and European countries have been the worst hit so far, but the map showed a small number of cases in about 20 African states, and more across Central and Latin America.
People living in poverty and lacking health insurance or secure employment cannot afford to be sick or miss work, she said, pointing to the virus as an “equity issue.”
If coronavirus expanded in poor countries, the economic impact on individuals would likely be greater as economic losses would be a bigger share of gross domestic product, she added.