UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Tuesday called the COVID-19 virus the "most challenging crisis" humanity has faced since World War II.

The UN chief launched a new plan to counter the socio-economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic and called for the world to "act together to lessen the blow to people".

He said the virus represents stress for everybody in the world and has economic effects that would bring "a recession that probably has no parallel in the recent past."

"The combination of the two facts and its risk that contributes to enhanced instability, enhanced unrest, and enhanced conflict ... make us believe that this is indeed the most challenging crisis we are faced since WWII," he said.

Guterres called for a "stronger and more effective response" against the devastating impact of the virus, saying that it is possible only "if everybody comes together and if we forget political games and understand that it is humankind that is at stake."

According to the UN International Labour Organization (ILO), five to 25 million jobs will be eradicated, and the US will lose $860 billion to $3.4 trillion in labor income.

The UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) projected a 30% to 40% downward pressure on global foreign direct investment flows while the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) saw a 20% –30% decline in international arrivals.

There are more than 838,000 infected cases and more than 41,000 deaths from the virus.