This is Liz Scaffidi at UN News.
No coronavirus ‘silver bullet’
On Friday, the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Emergency Committee on COVID-19 met and reviewed the current pandemic in what chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, called “a sobering moment”.
In addition to the direct toll of COVID-19, the Committee noted the ripple impact of disrupted health services on a range of other diseases and the compounding of reduced immunization coverage, cancer screening and care, and mental health services.
While acknowledging that “there’s no silver bullet at the moment and there might never be”, the WHO head underscored the importance of testing, isolating and treating patients as well as tracing and quarantining their contacts.
“For individuals”, he said, “it’s about keeping physical distance, wearing a mask, cleaning hands regularly and coughing safely away from others”.
This week, WHO is also launching with global partners a so-called “mask challenge”, inviting people to send in photos of themselves wearing a mask.
According to Tedros, as well as being a key tool to stem the virus, “the mask has come to represent solidarity”.
“By wearing a mask”, he said, “you’re sending a powerful message to those around you that we are all in this together”.
Crisis-resilient supply chains needed
Turning to food deprivation, humanitarian assistance alone is an insufficient response to hunger, according to the new Vice President of the UN International Fund for Agricultural Development, known as IFAD, who took office on Monday.
Dominik Ziller stressed the need to build crisis-resilient supply chains, otherwise, he said, “people will keep going to bed hungry”.
The new IFAD official acknowledged that COVID-19 would “dramatically increase hunger and poverty”, particularly in rural areas where people depend on agricultural supply chains for their incomes and food.
According to last month’s report on the State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World, over the past five years, hunger has increased and by the end of this year, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is expected to leave tens of millions of additional people deprived of food.
Mr. Ziller pointed out that with only 10 years left to fulfil our promise, “we are completely off track in achieving Zero Hunger”, the second UN Sustainable Development Goal.
‘Gunpoint censorship’ cannot go unpunished
And finally, on censorship, the head of the UN cultural agency, UNESCO, condemned on Monday, the murder of Naveed-e-Pakistan journalist Anwar Jan.
The reporter was killed by two gunmen in the Balochistan province when he was heading home on 23 July.
Director-General Audrey Azoulay called on the authorities “to investigate this crime and hold its perpetrators to account”.
She said that “a clear message must be sent whereby gunpoint censorship cannot go unpunished”.
Through global awareness-raising, capacity building and a range of actions, UNESCO promotes journalists’ safety, notably in the framework of the UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity.