This is the News in Brief from the United Nations.
Relaxing lockdowns without boosting care could lead to new COVID spike: WHO
As some European countries begin to relax lockdown measures following weeks of confinement introduced to halt the spread of the new coronavirus, the World Health Organization (WHO) has warned of a potential “second wave” of COVID-19 infections. In an update to strategic advice to Governments, issued overnight, the UN health agency called for greater support for health services.
Without it – and other measures including testing for infection - “the premature lifting of physical distancing measures is likely to lead to an uncontrolled resurgence in COVID‑19 transmission and an amplified second wave of cases”, the WHO said.
To date, Austria, Denmark, Spain and Italy have relaxed some lockdown measures.
Among its recommendations, WHO said that more should be done to identify those with mild disease symptoms, not just the severe cases. The development follows an appeal for greater solidarity in combating the disease from UN Secretary-General António Guterres.
In a statement supporting the UN health agency on Tuesday evening as US President, Donald Trump announced that he was halting funding for the UN health agency pending a review, Mr. Guterres appealed for greater unity, “so that the international community can work together…in solidarity to stop this virus and its shattering consequences”.
New coronavirus infections have yet to peak
Staying with COVID-19, although countries that have experienced very large outbreaks have started to see a “slight deceleration” in the number of infections, the number of infections has not peaked yet, the UN health agency has said on Wednesday in Geneva.
Nine in 10 cases are in Europe and the United States, World Health Organization data shows, with Spain and Italy seeing cases rates fall after dramatic spikes in the number of people falling sick.
Elsewhere in Europe, the picture is more nuanced, agency spokesperson Dr. Margaret Harris told journalists in Geneva:
“Some of the very large outbreaks that we’re seeing in Spain and Italy, we’re starting to see a slight deceleration in places, it’s going to take time, but yes, we’re seeing a slowing. Other countries we’re seeing an increase, like Turkey, like the UK so it’s a very mixed picture. And the overall world outbreak, 90 per cent of cases are coming from the United States and America, so we’re certainly not seeing the peak yet.”
Since the new coronavirus emerged in central China in December, latest data from the WHO indicates more than 1.8 million cases and over 117,000 confirmed deaths, with 213 countries, areas or territories reporting infections.
Protection appeal for children facing online threats during stay-at-home confinement
Millions of youngsters are potentially at risk from cyber-bullying and other online threats as pandemic-containment measures continue, UNICEF warned on Wednesday.
In a joint statement with other UN agencies and non-UN partners, the UN children’s fund said that more than 1.5 billion children and young people have been affected by school closures worldwide.
Many are spending much more time on digital devices and this lack of face-to-face contact could encourage them to send sexualized images, UNICEF said, while “unstructured” web surfing may expose children to potentially harmful and violent content.
Head of UNICEF, Henrietta Fore, appealed to Governments and industry to join forces to keep children and young people safe online through enhanced safety features and new tools. Guidance for parents and educators is now available on how to make sure that children’s online experiences are positive during COVID-19; just go to the UNICEF home page.
Daniel Johnson, UN News.