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News in Brief 21 January 2020

News in Brief 21 January 2020

This is the News in Brief from the United Nations.

China confirms coronavirus transmission between humans

Following an announcement by China’s national health body that a new virus first identified there, can be transmitted from person to person, the World Health Organization, WHO, will hold a meeting on Wednesday to decide whether to declare a global health emergency.

In a message released on social media, WHO said that the Emergency Committee meeting would establish “whether the outbreak constitutes a public health emergency of international concern, and what recommendations should be made to manage it”.

The Chinese National Health Commission confirmed on Monday that two people in Guangdong province had been infected via human-to-human transmission, raising the potential of the so-called coronavirus spreading more widely.

More from WHO Spokesperson, Tarik Jašarević:

“Based on current information, an animal source seems the most likely primary source of this outbreak with limited human-to-human transmission occurring between close contacts. Based on previous experiences with respiratory illnesses and in particular with other coronavirus outbreaks and other data analysis shared with China, human-to- human transmission is occurring”.

Lebanon: UN rights office called for de-escalation of protest violence

Turning to the Middle East, what had been largely peaceful demonstrations against Lebanon’s Government in the capital Beirut grew increasingly violent over the weekend, sparking the concern of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

“Some demonstrators have resorted to using violence to express their grievances, and security forces have responded, at times, with unnecessary or disproportionate use of force”, rights office Spokesperson, Marta Hurtado, told journalists on Tuesday in Geneva.

She called on all actors to do their utmost to de-escalate the situation and for authorities to establish a “meaningful and inclusive dialogue with all segments of society”.

Prime Minister Saad Hariri resigned in October, less than two weeks after protests began over a worsening financial crisis, unemployment and widespread political corruption. Since then, politicians have been unable to agree a new government.

Over the weekend, protesters in Beirut reportedly attempted to overrun the Parliament building, throwing rocks and firecrackers at Internal Security Forces.

Game-changing tool on hunger

And finally, the World Food Programme, WFP, unveiled a ground-breaking digital platform on Tuesday that provides near real-time updates on food security in over 90 countries.

The game-changing Hunger Map unlocks a world of knowledge regarding one of today’s biggest challenges, all in one place.

Having accurate, timely data of an unfolding crisis on the ground increases the chances of success in the race to overcome hunger.

And in addition to open-source intelligence on food security, the map provides a wealth of information on weather, population size, conflict, nutrition and hazards, such as drought.

Daily information updates will also allow for more agile decision-making.

In short, it can help cut emergency response times, optimize operations, reduce costs and bridge information gaps throughout the humanitarian community.

Liz Scaffidi, UN News.

  • China confirms coronavirus transmission between humans

  • Lebanon: UN rights office calls for de-escalation of protest violence

  • Game-changing tool on hunger

Audio Credit
Liz Scaffidi, UN News
Photo Credit
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, NIH, US