This is the News in Brief from the United Nations.
UN health agency does not recommend against using ibuprofen for COVID-19
The World Health Organization has said that for the moment, there is no reason why people infected with the COVID-19 virus should not take ibuprofen, a widely available drug used to treat fever and soreness.
In a statement, the UN health agency said that it was aware of concerns on the use of such anti-inflammatory drugs.
But after what it called a rapid review of scientific literature, the WHO said it was “not aware of published clinical or population-based data” on the topic.
The agency said that it had consulted with physicians treating COVID-19 patients and was not aware of reports of any negative effects of ibuprofen, beyond the usual known side-effects that limit its use in certain populations.
On its website, the WHO advises against people self-medicating and notes in particular that anti-biotics will not work against the viral infection, as they only target bacterial illnesses.
On Wednesday, the agency announced that clinical trials involving western and traditional medicine are under way and that the results would be made available as soon as possible.
Israel has ‘legal duty’ to ensure that Palestinians in OPT receive essential health services
The COVID-19 outbreak has made it even more important that Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank get protection from infection, a senior UN-appointed independent rights expert has said.
Michael Lynk, UN Special Rapporteur for the Occupied Palestinian Territory, said that a large-scale epidemic would put “enormous strain” on Gaza.
In particular, it threatens to overwhelm the enclave’s health workers, who’ve struggled to respond to three major military offensives in just over a decade and treat thousands of casualties from the “Great March of Return” protests.
In a statement on Thursday, Mr .Lynk insisted that Israel – as the occupying country – along with the Palestinian Authority and Hamas – all “bear the duty to provide essential health services and apply public health measures throughout this pandemic” without discriminating.
He noted that warnings about the virus issued by the Israeli Ministry of Health were almost exclusively in Hebrew, with virtually no information posted in Arabic.
This issue had been addressed after protests, but Palestinians face many other problems, including significant restrictions on their movement, the Special Rapporteur said.
In the context of COVID-19, where patients’ conditions deteriorate rapidly as symptoms become more severe, any delays getting to hospital can be fatal, he warned.
The situation in Gaza is particularly important, Mr Lynk continued, with malnutrition and non-communicable diseases on the rise, dense living and housing conditions, and an elderly population without access to proper nursing care.
‘No justification’ for information restrictions by Governments during coronavirus outbreak
Finally, a UN-appointed independent rights expert has urged Governments to ensure that in addition to looking after people’s health in the face of COVID-19, they also protect their right to freedom of information.
In a joint appeal with the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, UN Special Rapporteur David Kaye underscored the need for people’s access to accurate information about the health threat.
Governments should also refrain from blocking internet access, Mr. Kaye said, insisting that “broad restrictions…cannot be justified on public order or national security grounds.
In addition to supporting the work of all journalists, the rights experts also called on Governments and internet companies to address disinformation in the first instance by themselves providing reliable information.
That could come in the form of public messaging, public service announcements, and emergency support for public broadcasting, the experts suggested.
Daniel Johnson, UN News.