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The coronavirus pandemic is threatening the entire human race, the United Nations warned yesterday as it launched a humanitarian response plan featuring a $2 billon appeal for the world’s poorest people.

“COVID-19 is threatening the whole of humanity — and the whole of humanity must fight back. Global action and solidarity are crucial. Individual country responses are not going to be enough,” Secretary General Antonio Guterres said in announcing the initiative.

The UN plan is designed to last from April to December — suggesting the UN does not see the crisis ending any time soon.

The appeal came as more than 1.3 billion Indians went into lockdown yesterday, leaving a third of the planet now under orders to stay at home, as the United States vowed to spend $2 trillion to counter the economic harm of the coronavirus.

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Europe remains at the heart of the epidemic, with first Italy and now Spain’s death toll overtaking that of China, while Britain’s Prince Charles became the latest prominent figure to test positive for the COVID-19 disease.

Coronavirus cases are also spreading in the Middle East, where Iran’s death toll topped 2,000 yesterday, and in Africa, where Mali joined all seven of its neighbours in declaring its first cases — two nationals who arrived home recently from France.

Government policies and the capacity for virus testing vary widely around the world, so the true extent of the pandemic is difficult to estimate, but more than 427,940 cases have been declared in 181 countries and territories since the epidemic first emerged in China in December.

What is in less doubt is the number of deaths, with at least 19,246 deaths attributed to the new coronavirus strain since the outbreak began.

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