This is the News in Brief from the United Nations.
COVID: end of year celebrations and ski advice from WHO
An appeal from the World Health Organization (WHO) that further efforts will be needed from everyone to keep people with underlying medical conditions safe from COVID-19 at Christmas, and the New Year.
Amid what the WHO called “widespread and intense” infection rates in Europe and the United States, the agency said that postponing or reducing family gatherings “should be seriously considered”.
For winter sports enthusiasts, the agency noted that there were more than 1,000 ski resorts in the European region alone.
Although skiing does not spread COVID-19, “busy mountain resorts do”, WHO said, adding that during the upcoming holidays, countries should “carefully consider” measures to avoid crowding, especially in confined or closed settings.
Gatherings – including religious services - should also be held outdoors whenever possible or be limited in size and duration, the UN health agency added, with physical distancing, ventilation, hand hygiene and mask use, all key precautions.
For those who have to travel to visit family and friends, the advice is to avoid any transportation that might be crowded.
Under 40s urged to make extra effort for vulnerable in Western Pacific
In a related development, Dr. Takeshi Kasai, WHO Regional Director for the Western Pacific, urged people under 40 in particular to do “everything you can” to avoid infection.
In a virtual press conference on Thursday, Dr. Kasai said that although people were tired of the pandemic, they should continue to follow health advice to protect parents, grandparents and health workers.
Although the Western Pacific region had seen just “just one per cent” of confirmed cases recorded globally, the coronavirus has still been “devastating for thousands of families” who lost loved ones, Dr. Kasai said.
He warned that “whoever you are, and wherever you live, as long as the virus is circulating somewhere, we all remain at risk”.
UN Children’s Fund supports emergency food aid for hungry kids over holidays
Thousands of families in the United Kingdom impacted by COVID-19 are to receive “one-off…emergency” food assistance from UN Children’s Fund UNICEF over the upcoming holiday period and beyond.
It is the first time in the organization’s more than 70-year-history that it has stepped in to help the country’s most vulnerable, UNICEF UK said.
Just over $1 million will be made available for the initiative which is due to end in April.
It includes a $34,000 pledge to help deliver breakfast meals to 13,500 children at 25 schools in south London over the two-week Christmas break, and next February.
“This funding will help build stronger communities as the impact of the pandemics worsen”, said Anna Kettley, Director of Programmes at UNICEF UK, before calling for a longer-term solution “to tackle the root causes of food poverty, so no child is left to go hungry”.
Even before the pandemic struck, UNICEF said that an estimated 2.4 million UK children were already food-insecure.
Daniel Johnson, UN News.