20 March 2020 — The United Nations continues to ramp up its fight against the coronavirus, which has killed nearly 9,000 people and infected roughly 210,000. In a crisis, it is imperative to obtain authoritative information on what is happening, to promote acts of kindness and solidarity and to take concrete action. Secretary-General António Guterres yesterday made an urgent call for solidarity during his video press conference. Here are excerpts from his remarks.
“COVID-19 is killing people, as well as attacking the real economy at its core – trade, supply chains, businesses, jobs. Entire countries and cities are in lockdown. Borders are closing. Companies are struggling to stay in business and families are simply struggling to stay afloat”
Why do we care?
“Our human family is stressed and the social fabric is being torn. People are suffering, sick and scared. Our world faces a common enemy. We are at war with a virus.”
What measures are needed?
“More than ever before, we need solidarity, hope and the political will to see this crisis through together.”
Three key areas the Secretary-General identified for action are:
-Tackling The Health Emergency
“We need to immediately move away from a situation where each country is undertaking its own health strategies to one that ensures, in full transparency, a coordinated global response, including helping countries that are less prepared to tackle the crisis.”
-Focus on Social Impact, Economic Response and Recovery
“Most fundamentally, we need to focus on people -- low-wage workers, small and medium enterprises and the most vulnerable. And that means wage support, insurance, social protection, preventing bankruptcies and job loss. And that also means designing fiscal and monetary responses to ensure that the burden does not fall on those who can least afford it.”
-Global Responsibility to “Recover Better”.
“We must ensure that lessons are learned and that this crisis provides a watershed moment for health emergency preparedness and for investment in critical 21st century public services and the effective delivery of global public goods. We have a framework for action – the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. We must keep our promises for people and planet.”
What’s The UN doing about it?
- The World Health Organization (WHO), World Food Programme (WFP), United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) as well as partners are seeking to ensure supplies of personal protective equipment for countries that need them the most. WHO has shipped personal protective equipment to 68 countries and shipped 1.5 million diagnostic kits to 120 countries.
- WHO, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), and UNICEF issued a guideline document on how to reduce stigma around COVID-19 suspected cases.
- United Nations country teams around the world are working to support Government efforts against the threat of COVID-19.
- UNESCO is responding to COVID-19-related school closures by providing technical assistance to quickly prepare and deploy inclusive distant learning solutions, utilizing hi-tech, low-tech and no-tech approaches. It compiled a selection of digital learning resources that governments, schools, teachers, parents can use to open opportunities for learners unable to attend to school.
- The United Nations Global Compact unites over 10,400 companies globally in 166 countries and is now encouraging businesses to support workers and take action on COVID-19. In Brazil, the Compact is collecting information on measures that companies are taking to fight the pandemic and on voluntary initiatives to support the global response. A survey with 50 businesses showed that several companies have set up shopping networks to provide basic goods to those in quarantine or staying at home for precaution measures.
- The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) will provide diagnostic kits, equipment and training in nuclear-derived detection techniques to countries asking for assistance in tackling the worldwide spread of the novel coronavirus. The diagnostic technique, known as real time reverse transcription–polymerase chain reaction, can help detect and identify the novel coronavirus accurately within hours in humans, as well as in animals that may also host it.
- The United Nations Development Programme, WHO and UNICEF partnered with WhatsApp to provides real-time health information and simple, actionable guidance for health workers, educators, community leaders, non-profits, local governments and local businesses.
- The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) is seeking to ensure that human rights are front and centre in VOVID-19 responses.
- In solidarity and support to all those who are affected by the Coronavirus pandemic, and especially the most vulnerable among us – the elderly, the sick, those without reliable healthcare, and those on the edge of poverty, the UN Chamber Music Society of the United Nations Staff Recreation Council (UNCMS), in association with Open Mind Project and Culturunners, launched a Webcast performance to pay tribute to all the outpourings of selflessness and love that have inspired the world in these uncertain times with.