Spain is stepping up measures to curb the spread of the coronavirus, setting up emergency shelters in cities such as Barcelona [Quique Garcia/EPA-EFE]

United Nations chief Antonio Guterres has launched an appeal for $2bn in international humanitarian aid to help poorer countries tackle the coronavirus pandemic, as the death toll in Italy and Spain continued to climb.

Guterres said COVID-19 was a threat to the “whole of humanity and the whole of humanity must fight back.”

As the UN launched the initiative, more deaths were reported in Europe – now the epicentre of the pandemic – with Spain recording more than 700 fatalities in 24 hours. It is now the second-worst affected country in the world after Italy.

In the United States, meanwhile, a sweeping $2 trillion

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