This is the News in Brief from the United Nations.
Tedros renews call to countries to ‘test, test, test’ all cases of suspected infection
Countries facing the COVID-19 outbreak should do more to test “every suspected” case of the virus, the head of the World Health Organization (WHO) insisted on Monday.
Speaking from WHO headquarters in Geneva, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus welcomed social distancing advice that has been implemented in many countries.
But he said that this was not enough, and that all cases of infection should be isolated and given appropriate care.
“As I keep saying, all countries must take a comprehensive approach. But the most effective way to prevent infections and to save lives is to break the chains of transmission. And to do that you must test and isolate. You cannot fight a fire blindfolded and we cannot stop this pandemic if we don’t know who is infected. We have a simple message for countries: test, test, test.”
Globally, there are now well over 150,000 confirmed cases of the new coronavirus and more than 5,700 people have died.
There have also been more deaths and cases outside China, with more than 140 countries now affected.
COVID-19: WFP sends lifesaving medical equipment to worst-hit Chinese province
The World Food Programme, WFP, has sent lifesaving medical equipment to China where it will be used to help treat COVID-19 sufferers in the worst-hit area of the country.
Some $500,000 worth of ventilators and oxygenation kits have been prepared for critically ill patients.
The first batch of 50 ventilators arrived on Sunday in Hubei province, other equipment is scheduled to arrive on Wednesday.
In Geneva, here’s agency spokesperson Elisabeth Byrs (Byrs):
“The office in Beijing is in close contact with authorities to provide emergency support and assist with the procurement of much-needed medical equipment to ensure assistance is aligned with the country’s national priorities, including mitigation of the long-term consequences of the pandemic on the livelihoods of smallholder farmers in rural areas.”
In addition to medical equipment, WFP is providing air transport of critical items, Ms. Byrs said.
Meanwhile, the World Health Organization has shipped almost 1.5 million tests to 120 countries and the agency is working with companies to increase the availability of tests for those most in need.
Rights experts urge countries to respect people’s rights when tackling virus
Finally, senior UN-appointed rights experts on Monday urged States to avoid “overreach” of security measures in tackling the coronavirus outbreak.
Emergency powers should not be used to “quash dissent”, more than a dozen experts said in a joint statement.
While recognizing the severity of the current health crisis and acknowledging that the use of emergency powers is allowed by international law to deal with significant threats, they reminded States “that these actions must be proportionate, necessary and non-discriminatory.”
Emergency powers must be publicly declared, the rights experts said, and should not be used as a basis to target particular groups, minorities, or individuals – nor be “a cover” for repressive action to silence the work of human rights defenders.
Daniel Johnson, UN News.