This is the News in Brief from the United Nations.
COVID-19 reinfection seems not to be a ‘regular event’, says UN health agency
There is most likely only a slim possibility of people being reinfected with COVID-19, the UN health agency said on Tuesday.
The World Health Organization (WHO) comment follows reports in Hong Kong that a man had contracted new coronavirus for a second time after an interval of more than four months.
Here’s WHO spokesperson Dr. Margaret Harris, speaking in Geneva:
“The important – other important – thing to note is the numbers are very, very small. So, this is one documented case in over 23 million and we will probably see other documented cases. But it seems to be not a regular event, we would have seen many more cases.”
Nonetheless, Dr. Harris noted that the reinfection signalled on Monday was significant.
She said that priorities for the UN health agency include understanding “what this means in terms of (people’s) immunity.
To do this, WHO is working with many research groups to track infected people and measure antibodies, in an attempt to understand how long natural immune protection lasts.
To date, the WHO has recorded nearly 23.5 million cases of COVID-19 infection globally, with more than 809,000 deaths. The Americas have been worst-hit by region, with more than 12.5 million people infected.
US on standby from hurricane Laura - WMO
Last week the United States faced extreme heat risks, this week, it’s the turn of floods and wildfires, UN weather experts have said.
Announcing the alert, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) shared the announcement that tropical storm Laura has now developed into a hurricane, after gathering strength in the Gulf of Mexico.
Hurricane and storm surge watches are now in place for portions of the north-western Gulf coast, according to US authorities.
Speaking to journalists, WMO spokesperson Clare Nullis said that the US National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Agency believed that Laura would escalate to a Category Two storm when she reaches the US coast.
“We’re just entering the phase of the Atlantic hurricane season, which is traditionally the most active, we normally say from about the 20 August onwards, so obviously it is a situation of concern and obviously the emergency preparations and response are complicated by the COVID pandemic.”
Ms. Nullis said that 19 to 25 named storms are expected during the current storm season, of which 7 to 11 expected to be hurricanes and three to six major hurricanes, category three and above.
On the other side of the United States, extremely serious wildfires had destroyed more than one million acres of land and claimed lives.
The risk is of more dry thunderstorms with lightning that can spark additional fires, WMO’s Ms. Nullis said.
Don’t forget the Rohingya amid monsoon flooding: WFP
To Bangladesh now, where there are fears that an uncontained outbreak of COVID-19 among refugees living in crowded camps could be devastating.
Three years since several hundred thousand ethnic Rohingya fled deadly persecution in neighbouring Myanmar, UN humanitarians warned on Tuesday that monsoon rains have already affected more than 109,000 people, destroying shelters and washing away crops.
Spokesperson Elisabeth Byrs from the World Food Programme (WFP) said that “almost all Rohingya” remain entirely dependent on the agency’s assistance to survive.
COVID-19 is just the latest crisis they face, she added:
“The main refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar is the largest and most overcrowded in the world where social distancing is almost impossible. An uncontained outbreak of COVID-19 in these camps could be devastating…The availability of foods in camps, outside of WFP assistance, has been shrinking, prices are rising. Supply chain disruptions due to COVID-19 lockdown measures are also affecting availability of fresh foods in WFP e-voucher outlets.”
In an appeal for help, Ms. Byrs said that WFP needs $24 million every month to feed 860,000 refugees.
Without continued support from the international community, the situation for these refugees could deteriorate rapidly, she warned.
In addition to COVID, relentless rain and hazardous weather have added to the challenges. According to humanitarian reports, over 100,000 refugees have been affected due to the heavy monsoon rains, this year, that destroyed shelters and washed away crops
Daniel Johnson, UN News.