G20 health ministers hold virtual meeting on coronavirus

RIYADH (Reuters) – Health ministers from the Group of 20 major economies held a virtual meeting on Sunday to work on a joint response to the coronavirus pandemic and will issue a statement, the G20 said.

It said a planned virtual news conference was cancelled as the health minister of Saudi Arabia, the current G20 chair, had to attend “an urgent COVID-19 KSA (Saudi) taskforce meeting”.

Saudi Health Minister Tawfiq al-Rabiah had delivered the opening remarks of the meeting, according to a video provided to media.

In his speech, Rabiah referred to a G20 health working group meeting on Saturday, saying “we acknowledge that there are a few areas of debate and we are happy to address them in future health working groups,” but he did not elaborate.

He said urgent actions included the need for collaboration and engagement of global organisations for coordinated responses to the novel coronavirus pandemic, with an emphasis on supporting countries in need, and investing in research and discovery to produce technology, tools, vaccines and therapies.

He also referred to the creation of a global task force to respond to pandemics, an innovation hub for knowledge sharing to improve value in health and a patient safety leaders group to provide shared platforms aimed at reducing patient safety risks.

Leaders from Spain, Singapore, Jordan and Switzerland were invited to attend Sunday’s meeting as well as international and regional organisations including the World Health Organization and the World Bank, an earlier G20 statement said.

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