This is the News in Brief from the United Nations.
Africa should wake up to COVID-19 epidemic, the says UN health agency chief
The African continent has been urged to “wake up” to the COVID-19 epidemic and prepare for the worst, particularly countries whose populations’ immunity has been reduced by HIV or malnutrition.
That was the message from UN health agency chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, speaking in Geneva on Wednesday.
Although latest World Health Organization data shows under 200 confirmed cases of new coronavirus in sub-Saharan Africa and four deaths, Tedros said that there were likely many more unreported infections.
He warned that the experience of other countries was for the virus to accelerate after it reached a tipping point.
“So the best advice for Africa is to prepare for the worst. And prepare today. It’s actually better if these numbers are true to cut it in the bud. We have to do the testing, we have to do the contact tracing, we have to do the isolating, the isolation and cut it from the bud. And with regard to mass gathering and so on, it will help if we avoid that, and WHO’s recommendation is actually mass gatherings should be avoided. And we should do all we can to cut it from the bud…. And I think Africa should wake up. My continent should wake up.”
Latest WHO information indicates more than 200,000 cases of COVID-19 and more than 8000 people have lost their lives.
More than 80% of all cases are from two regions: the Western Pacific and Europe.
Pandemic could mean 25 million jobs threatened – ILO
Almost 25 million jobs could be lost because of the COVID-19 pandemic according to worst case scenarios, and it could cost $3.4 trillion in lost wages by the end of the year, the International Labour Organization (ILO) said on Wednesday.
In an appeal for an internationally coordinated response to soften the expected economic and labour crisis, the organization predicted likely reductions in working hours and wages.
To counter these, it proposed extending social protection, supporting flexible working arrangements including paid leave, and financial and tax relief for small businesses.
In developing countries, ILO said that self-employment may not cushion people as it usually does in times of change, because of restrictions on the movement.
According to the ILO, global unemployment could increase by between 5.3 and 24.7 million, from 188 million in 2019.
By comparison, the 2008-9 global financial crisis saw global unemployment increase by 22 million.
Blueprint launched to manage Earth’s fragile peatland carbon sinks
A blueprint for how countries can keep carbon in fragile land-based carbon sinks to reduce greenhouse gas emissions has been unveiled by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization.
Launched on Wednesday, the guidelines for peatland mapping and conservation come as around 15 per cent of the world's peatlands have already been drained for cropping, grazing, forestry and extraction.
FAO’s Maria Nuutinen said that mapping peatlands to know their location, extent and greenhouse gas emissions potential, can help countries to plan and better manage their land, water and biodiversity, mitigating climate change and adapting to it more effectively.
The FAO’s guidelines complement an online surveying tool which lets Member States map and monitor where their main carbon-retaining areas are.
It also indicates when action is required to stop these carbon sinks from drying out.
Indonesia, the Democratic Republic and the Congo and Peru are among those who’ve taken action to protect their peatlands.
Hotspots of peatland degradation are located especially in Europe, Russia and Northern America, southeast Asia, East Africa and the Amazon basin.
Daniel Johnson, UN News.