Nations worldwide should take swift action to stem the deadly coronavirus pandemic, Turkey’s president urged on Thursday.
"I invite all countries to participate in the fair fight against this global health crisis until all humanity breathes a sigh of relief," President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told fellow world leaders at an extraordinary G20 summit on the virus, which he like all the other leaders attended via a video link.
Erdogan said the countries must "act immediately" as they did during the 2008-2009 global financial crisis, according to presidential sources.
"No country has the luxury of implementing protectionist, unilateral policies,” said Erdogan, according to the sources, who asked not to be named due to restrictions on speaking to the media.
He said the G20 bloc countries must guide, take responsibility, and show global cooperation in the fight against the pandemic.
"All measures to tackle coronavirus should be compatible with WTO [World Trade Organization] rules, and encourage global cooperation," Erdogan said, adding that the coronavirus outbreak once again demonstrated the importance of cooperation and reconciliation in the G20 bloc.
He also urged countries to share their experiences with controlling the COVID-19 pandemic and diagnosing and treating the disease.
"We see that even many developed countries have serious difficulty combating the coronavirus pandemic," he said.
Erdogan joined the summit – which lasted over two hours – from Huber Pavilion in Istanbul, Turkey's largest city.
Accompanying Erdogan were Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, Finance and Treasury Minister Berat Albayrak, Communications Director Fahrettin Altun, presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin, and Turkey’s G20 Sherpa Hayrettin Demircan.
In addition to Turkey, the G20 leaders taking part included Germany, the U.S., Argentina, Australia, Brazil, China, Indonesia, France, South Africa, South Korea, India, the U.K., Italy, Japan, Canada, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, and the EU.
After first appearing in Wuhan, China last December, the novel coronavirus, officially known as COVID-19, has spread to at least 175 countries and territories. The World Health Organization has declared the outbreak a pandemic.
The number of confirmed cases worldwide has now surpassed 495,000 while the death toll has crossed 22,000 and nearly 120,000 have recovered, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University in the U.S.
Italy, China, Iran, and Spain continue to be the countries hardest hit.