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31 Mar

United Nations Secretary-General Launches Plan To Address The Potentially Devastating Socio-Economic Impacts Of COVID-19

  • 31 March 2020 |

Establishes global fund to support low- and middle-income countries

NEW YORK, 31 MARCH 2020—The new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is attacking societies at their core,
claiming lives and people’s livelihoods. The potential longer-term effects on the global economy and those of individual countries are dire.
In a new report, Shared responsibility, global solidarity: Responding to the socio-economic impacts of COVID-19, the United Nations Secretary-General calls on everyone to act together to address this impact and lessen the
blow to people.

The report describes the speed and scale of the outbreak, the severity of cases, and the societal and economic disruption of COVID-19, which has so far claimed the lives of 33 257 people, with 697, 244 confirmed cases in
204 countries, areas and territories .

“COVID-19 is the greatest test that we have faced together since the formation of the United Nations,” said António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations. “This human crisis demands coordinated, decisive,
inclusive and innovative policy action from the world’s leading economies – and maximum financial and technical  support for the poorest and most vulnerable people and countries.”

The report comes after the IMF has announced that the world has entered into a recession as bad or worse than in 2009. The report calls for a large-scale, coordinated and comprehensive multilateral response amounting to
at least 10 percent of global GDP.

The United Nations system—and its global network of regional, sub-regional and country offices working for peace, human rights, sustainable development and humanitarian action, will support all governments and partners through the response and recovery.

To that end, the Secretary-General has established a dedicated COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund to support efforts in low- and middle-income countries. Its approach underpins the reformed UN with a coordinated multi-agency, multi-sectoral response for priority national and local actions to address the socioeconomic impact of the COVID-19 crisis.

It will count on the country leadership of Resident Coordinators and UN
Country Teams in swiftly supporting and enabling governments in this crisis, and recovery.  


The shared responsibility and global solidarity roadmap calls for:

  • Suppressing the transmission of the virus to control the pandemic.
  • Safeguarding people’s lives and their livelihoods.
  • Learning from this human crisis to build back better.

The report warns that there is no time to lose in mounting the most robust and cooperative health response the world has ever seen. The strongest support must be provided to the multilateral effort to suppress transmission and stop the pandemic, led by the World Health Organization.
At the same time there is great need for scientific collaboration in the search for a vaccine and effective therapeutics.

This must be matched with assurances of universal access to vaccines and treatment. Throughout the report a people-centred approach is promoted that calls for engaging communities affected by COVID-19, respect for human rights and inclusion, gender equality and dignity for all.

Safeguarding people’s lives and their livelihoods

Recognizing that epidemics can expose and exacerbate existing inequalities in society, the road map shows it  will be crucial to cushion the knock-on effects on people’s lives, their livelihoods and the economy.

The report highlights examples of actions countries could take, such as direct provision of resources to support workers and households, provision of health and unemployment insurance, scaling-up of social protection, and
support to businesses to prevent bankruptcies and job loss.

The report strongly recognizes that women and girls must have a face in the response; and opportunities for  young people, seriously affected, need to be preserved.

Learn from this crisis to build back better

The world will be faced with a choice in its recovery. Go back to the world we knew before or deal decisively with those issues that make everyone unnecessarily vulnerable to this and future crises.

From stronger health systems and fewer people living in extreme poverty to achieving gender equality and taking climate action for a healthy planet, the report gives hope that lessons from this human crisis can build more just and resilient societies and deliver on the promise of the 2030 Agenda and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals.

Partnerships for progress

No single country or entity will win alone against the pandemic. A successful response and recovery will require international cooperation and partnerships at every level — governments taking action in lock step with communities;  private sector engagement to find pathways out of this crisis. Partnerships based on solidarity will be the cornerstone for progress.

Civil Society, women and grassroots organizations, community-based organizations and faith-based organizations will play a vital role. In assisting the most vulnerable populations, these networks are active in bringing  economic and livelihood opportunities and adapting responses to the community context.

These organizations, in many locations in the world, are the first, or only, point of reference for individuals and families as they seek to cope with the impacts of COVID-19 and for the recovery ahead.

Call to action

The COVID-19 Pandemic is a defining moment for modern society, and history will judge the efficacy of the  response not by the actions of any single set of government actors taken in isolation, but by the degree to which the response is coordinated globally across all sectors for the benefit of our human family.

The United Nations and its global network of regional, sub-regional and country offices working for peace, human rights, sustainable development and humanitarian action, supported by established coordination mechanisms, will work with partners to ensure first and foremost that lives are saved, livelihoods are restored, and that the global economy and the people we serve emerge stronger from this crisis.

The 129 UN Resident Coordinators and the UN Country Teams will provide comprehensive policy and operational support at the national level in support of a whole of society approach in countries. With the right actions, the  COVID-19 pandemic can mark the beginning of a new type of global and societal cooperation.

Recommended measures to cope with the impacts of COVID-19:

  1. Global measures to match the magnitude of the crisis

    •  Advocate and support implementation of a human-centered, innovative and coordinated stimulus package reaching double-digit percentage points of the world’s gross domestic product.
    •  Resist the temptation to resort to protectionist measures.
    • Take explicit measures to boost the economies of developing countries.
  2.  Regional mobilisation

    • A coordinated regional approach will enable collective examination of impacts, coordination of monetary, fiscal and social measures, and sharing best practices and the lessons learned.
    • Adopt DO NO HARM trade policies, preserve connectivity, and ensure regional monetary-fiscal coordination.
    • Engage with private financial sector to support businesses.
    • Address structural challenges and strengthen normative frameworks to deal with transboundary risks.
  3. National solidarity is crucial to leave no one behind

The pandemic is hitting an already weak and fragile world economy. Global growth in 2019 was already the slowest since the global financial crisis of 2008/2009.  According to ILO estimates, the world could lose between 5
million and 25 million jobs.

    • Undertake fiscal stimulus and support for the most vulnerable.
    •  Protect Human Rights and focus on inclusion.
    • Support to Small and Medium sized Enterprises.
    • Support decent work.
    • Support education.
    • Prioritize social cohesion measures.

COVID-19 socio-economic estimates for 2020 as of March 2020

5 – 25 million jobs lost (ILO)
US$ 860 billion – US$ 3.4 trillion losses in labor income (ILO)
30% — 40% downward pressure on global foreign direct investment flows (UNCTAD)
20% – 30% decline in international arrivals (UNWTO)
3.6 billion people offline (ITU)
1.5 billion students out of school (UNESCO)


30 Mar

Coronavirus necessitates global increase in protective equipment, medical supplies: UN health chief

  • 30 March 2020 |

The head of the World Health Organization (WHO) is calling for stepped-up production of medical equipment and supplies as health facilities and health workers in many countries struggle with increasing and urgent demands brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told journalists in Geneva on Monday that he had spoken to trade ministers from the world’s leading economic forum, the G-20, about ways to address the chronic shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) and other essential medical supplies.

“We call on countries to work with companies to increase production; to ensure the free movement of essential health products; and to ensure equitable distribution of those products, based on need”, Tedros said, placing specific emphasis on low and middle-income countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America.

The UN health agency also is “working intensively” with several partners to massively increase access to diagnostics, PPE, medical oxygen, ventilators and other life-saving products, he added.

Health care: A balancing act

Cases of the new coronavirus disease continue to mount globally, reaching nearly 700,000 on Monday, and more than 33,000 deaths.

The rapidly increasing demands of the pandemic are threatening health systems, Tedros said, because “even though we’re in the midst of a crisis, essential health services must continue”.

WHO has published guidelines to help countries balance the demands of pandemic response while maintaining essential health services which include routine vaccination, pre-natal care, and treating infectious and non-communicable diseases.

Tedros also welcomed the news that 20,000 healthcare workers in the United Kingdom have offered to return to work, while medical students and trainees in Russia are taking part in the emergency response there.

Countries coping with the COVID-19 surge can also consult a new WHO manual on setting up and managing treatment centres, including in repurposed buildings or tents.

“This is a life-saving instruction manual to deal with the surge of cases that some countries are facing right now”, the agency’s chief said.

“These facilities will also have longer-term benefits for health systems once the current crisis is over”.

Pandemic exposes inequalities

The COVID-19 pandemic is highlighting the world’s inequalities and threatening to deepen them, the International Labour Organization (ILO), warned on Monday.

The UN agency finds that migrant workers and people working in the informal economy are particularly affected by the economic consequences of the disease, and women are especially exposed.

Two billion people worldwide work in in informal employment, while ILO also stressed that the policy response by government should ensure that support reaches low-wage workers, the self-employed and other vulnerable people.

An appeal for children in conflict

The UN expert on the plight of children caught in conflict has joined the Secretary-General’s call for a global ceasefire amid the pandemic.

Virginia Gamba said COVID-19 is compounding the suffering of the world’s most vulnerable people, especially those living in conflict zones.

“As borders are closing down and hostilities continue relentlessly, it is important to stand with those who are counting on us and to amplify our call for the protection of children affected by conflict; only together can we defeat this invisible threat”, she said.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres last Monday called on combatants everywhere to “end the sickness of war and fight the disease that is ravaging our world”.

27 Mar

A sustainable global economy must arise once COVID-19 pandemic is reversed, UN chief tells G-20 summit

  • 27 March 2020 |

World leaders at the G-20 virtual summit held on Thursday committed to inject over $5 trillion into the global economy to counteract the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

They will also expand manufacturing capacity to meet the huge and increasing demand for medical supplies, which will be made available at an affordable price and in the shortest possible time, pledged the leading economic powers.

The UN Secretary-General, the world’s top diplomat, was among those taking part, stressing that “we are at war with a virus – and not winning it”.

António Guterres delivered a three-part message to leaders, urging concerted action to suppress the virus and to minimize the social and economic impact of the pandemic.

“We must work together now to set the stage for a recovery that builds a more sustainable, inclusive and equitable economy, guided by our shared promise — the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”, he concluded.

‘Fight like hell’ WHO chief tells summit

With the pandemic accelerating exponentially overall, the man at the forefront of global response urged the G-20 to “fight like hell” against what he called “the defining health crisis of our time”.

Like the Secretary-General, the World Health Organization (WHO) chief, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, also delivered three messages to leaders: fight, unite and ignite.

“First, fight. Fight hard. Fight like hell. Fight like your lives depend on it – because they do”, he said.

Tedros also called for unity and solidarity, and to ignite production of the tools, protective equipment and treatments that can potentially save hundreds of thousands of lives.

WHO data shows nearly half a million cases of COVID-19 have been reported as of Thursday, and more than 20,800 deaths, while 199 countries and territories are affected.

Tedros warned that “without aggressive action in all countries, millions could die”.

ome nations heed ceasefire call

Communist guerillas in the Philippines and Anglophone rebels in Cameroon are laying down their weapons and acceding to the UN Secretary-General’s call for a global ceasefire amid the pandemic.

The UN has welcomed temporary ceasefires announced on Wednesday in the two countries.

The Communist Party of the Philippines has ordered the New People’s Army to stop assaults through 15 April, while the ceasefire by the Southern Cameroons Defense Force will come into effect on Sunday, according to media reports.

UN chief António Guterres made the ceasefire appeal on Monday, saying: “It is time to put armed conflict on lockdown and focus together on the true fight of our lives.”


Coronavirus Portal & News Updates

For news upates from UN News- click here

25 Mar

A global approach is the only way to fight COVID-19, the UN says as it launches humanitarian response plan

  • 25 March 2020 |

UN humanitarian chief warns that failing to help vulnerable countries fight the coronavirus now could place millions at risk and leave the virus free to circle back around the globe.

UN launches US$2 billion global humanitarian response to fight COVID-19 in 51 countries across South America, Africa, the Middle East and Asia.
Governments urged to commit to fully supporting the global humanitarian response plan, while sustaining funding to existing humanitarian appeals.
United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres today, Wednesday, 25 March, launched a US $2 billion coordinated global humanitarian response plan to fight COVID-19 in some of the world’s most vulnerable countries in a bid to protect millions of people and stop the virus from circling back around the globe.

COVID-19 has killed more than 16,000 people worldwide and there are nearly 400,000 reported cases. It has a foothold across the globe and is now reaching countries that were already facing humanitarian crisis because of conflict, natural disasters and climate change.

The response plan will be implemented by UN agencies, with international NGOs and NGO consortia playing a direct role in the response. It will: 

deliver essential laboratory equipment to test for the virus, and medical supplies to treat people; install handwashing stations in camps and settlements;
launch public information campaigns on how to protect yourself and others from the virus; and establish airbridges and hubs across Africa, Asia and Latin America to move humanitarian workers and supplies to where they are needed most.
United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres said:

“COVID-19 is menacing the whole of humanity – and so the whole of humanity must fight back. Individual country responses are not going to be enough.

“We must come to the aid of the ultra-vulnerable – millions upon millions of people who are least able to protect themselves. This is a matter of basic human solidarity. It is also crucial for combating the virus. This is the moment to step up for the vulnerable.”

Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Mark Lowcock said:

“COVID-19 has already upended life in some of the world’s wealthiest countries. It is now reaching places where people live in warzones, cannot easily access clean water and soap, and have no hope of a hospital bed if they fall critically ill.

“To leave the world’s poorest and most vulnerable countries to their fate would be both cruel and unwise. If we leave coronavirus to spread freely in these places, we would be placing millions at high risk, whole regions will be tipped into chaos and the virus will have the opportunity to circle back around the globe.

“Countries battling the pandemic at home are rightly prioritizing people living in their own communities. But the hard truth is they will be failing to protect their own people if they do not act now to help the poorest countries protect themselves.

“Our priority is to help these countries prepare and continue helping the millions who rely on humanitarian assistance from the UN to survive. Properly funded, our global response effort will equip humanitarian organizations with the tools to fight the virus, save lives, and help contain the spread of COVID-19 worldwide.”

WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said:

“The virus is now spreading in countries with weak health systems, including some which are already facing humanitarian crises. These countries need our support – out of solidarity but also to protect us all and help suppress this pandemic. At the same time, we must not fight the pandemic at the expense of the other humanitarian health emergencies.”

UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta H. Fore said:

“Children are the hidden victims of the COVID-19 pandemic. Lockdowns and school closures are affecting their education, mental health and access to basic health services. The risks of exploitation and abuse are higher than ever, for boys and girls alike. For children on the move or living through conflicts, the consequences will be unlike any we have ever seen. We must not let them down.”

At the virtual launch of the COVID-19 Global Humanitarian Response Plan, the UN Secretary-General was joined via video link by Mr. Lowcock, Dr Tedros and Ms. Fore.

Together they called on UN Member States to commit to stemming the impact of COVID-19 in vulnerable countries and containing the virus globally by giving the strongest possible support to the plan, while also sustaining core support to existing humanitarian appeals that help the more than 100 million people who already rely on humanitarian assistance from the UN just to survive.

Member States were warned that any diversion of funding from existing humanitarian operations would create an environment in which cholera, measles and meningitis can thrive, in which even more children become malnourished, and in which extremists can take control – an environment that would be the perfect breeding ground for the coronavirus.

To kick-start the response plan, Mr. Lowcock released an additional $60 million from the UN’s Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF). This brings CERF’s support to humanitarian action in response to the COVID-19 pandemic to $75 million. In addition, country-based pooled funds have allocated more than $3 million so far.

This new CERF allocation – one of the largest ever made – will support: WFP to ensure the continuity of supply chains and transport of aid workers and relief goods; WHO to contain the spread of the pandemic; and other agencies to provide humanitarian assistance and protection to those most affected by the pandemic, including women and girls, refugees and internally displaced people. Support will include efforts around food security, physical and mental health, water and sanitation, nutrition and protection.

The COVID-19 Global Humanitarian Response Plan can be found here:


The COVID-19 Global Humanitarian Response Plan will be coordinated by the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

It brings together requirements from the World Health Organization (WHO), Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), International Organization for Migration (IOM), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), UN-Habitat, UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and World Food Programme (WFP).

For further details, please contact:

WHO Spokesperson: Tarik Jasarevic, +41 793 676 214, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
OCHA New York: Zoe Paxton, + 1 917 297 1542, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
OCHA Geneva: Jens Laerke, +41 79 472 9750, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


23 Mar

UN chief calls for global ceasefire to focus on ‘the true fight of our lives’

  • 23 March 2020 |

In an appeal issued on Monday, UN Secretary-General António Guterres urged warring parties across the world to lay down their weapons in support of the bigger battle against  COVID-19: the common enemy that is now threatening all of humankind. 

“The fury of the virus illustrates the folly of war”, he said.  “That is why today, I am calling for an immediate global ceasefire in all corners of the world.  It is time to put armed conflict on lockdown and focus together on the true fight of our lives.” 

The ceasefire would allow humanitarians to reach populations that are most vulnerable to the spread of COVID-19, which first emerged in Wuhan, China, last December, and has now been reported in more than 180 countries. 

So far, there are nearly 300,000 cases worldwide, and more than 12,700 deaths, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). 

As the UN chief pointed out, COVID-19 does not care about nationality or ethnicity, or other differences between people, and “attacks all, relentlessly”, including during wartime. 

It is the most vulnerable - women and children, people with disabilities, the marginalized, displaced and refugees - who pay the highest price during conflict and who are most at risk of suffering “devastating losses” from the disease. 

Furthermore, health systems in war-ravaged countries have often reached the point of total collapse, while the few health workers who remain are also seen as targets.  

The UN chief called on warring parties to pull back from hostilities, put aside mistrust and animosity, and “silence the guns; stop the artillery; end the airstrikes”.  

This is crucial, he said, “to help create corridors for life-saving aid. To open precious windows for diplomacy.  To bring hope to places among the most vulnerable to COVID-19.”   

While inspired by new rapprochement and dialogue between combatants to enable joint approaches to push back the disease, the Secretary-General said more still needs to be done. 

“End the sickness of war and fight the disease that is ravaging our world”, he appealed.  “It starts by stopping the fighting everywhere. Now. That is what our human family needs, now more than ever.” 

Source: UN News

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23 Mar

PAHO Prepares Barbados for COVID-19 Testing

  • 23 March 2020 |

The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) is implementing a comprehensive plan to support country preparedness efforts for the outbreak associated with the new Coronavirus (COVID-19). This plan includes establishing and strengthening laboratory capacity for early detection of the virus through the public health and reference laboratory networks in the Americas.

The Barbados ‘Best-dos Santos Public Health Laboratory’ became one of the first in the Caribbean to acquire test kits and reagents for COVID-19 detection, with concurrent training of laboratory personnel in the new testing protocol. The provision of COVID-19 test kits and training were made possible by PAHO Health Emergencies Department, who has worked in close collaboration with the Ministry of Health and Wellness to enhance national capacity in response to the Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC).

Virus detection requires high complexity tests that identify the specific genetic fingerprint of the virus. To support the implementation of the virus detection in Barbados, PAHO conducted training at the Best-dos Santos Public Health Laboratory.

The two-day training which commenced on 10 February 2020, was facilitated by Virologist, Dr Lionel Gresh. Included in the training was a review of the current knowledge about this novel pathogen, as well as the hands-on implementation of its detection. Dr Gresh said that:

“A highly-motivated team that included five medical laboratory technologists and the laboratory Director participated in the training, and as a result, Barbados now has the capacity of testing any case that might fit the current testing criteria for COVID-19”.

Mrs Songee Beckles, Director of the Best-dos Santos Public Health Laboratory (third from left) said:

“Training went very well. The staff of the molecular department of the Best-dos Santos Public Health Laboratory are excited and confident in performing the new test for novel Coronavirus 2019.”

She noted that they were pleased as the test can be used by the Ministry of Health and Wellness in the National Coronavirus Response to screen for and confirm the virus if suspected cases appear in Barbados.

In his remarks on the training, Dr Yitades Gebre, newly appointed PAHO/WHO Representative to Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean countries (PWR-ECC), emphasized that:

"In the management of the new COVID-19 in the Caribbean , timely and accurate laboratory testing of specimens from cases under investigation is urgently needed."

21 Mar

PAHO Director to Health Ministers- “Reorganise health services to care for COVID-19 patients and save lives”

  • 21 March 2020 |

Washington, D.C., 18 March 2020 [PAHO] – The Director of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), Dr. Carissa F. Etienne, today called on all countries in the Americas to take urgent action to reorganize their health services and protect health professionals in order to safely care for patients with the 2019 coronavirus disease (COVID-19) and save lives.

“The message is clear- Now is the time for countries to increase their capacity to detect cases, care for patients, and ensure that hospitals have the space, supplies and staff they need to provide the necessary care,” Etienne said during her weekly teleconference with the region’s health ministers.

She urged health leaders to involve citizens and other sectors in support of public health action. “If everyone collaborates, it is not too late to contain the situation, flatten the epidemic curve and thereby avoid overloading the health services so that they can give the necessary care to all who need it.”

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 epidemic on 31 December 2019, until 17 March, 191,127 cases and 7,807 deaths were reported globally. The majority of these deaths were in China, Italy, Iran, Spain and France. As of yesterday, in the Region of the Americas, 37 countries and territories reported 5,944 cases and 19 deaths.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), current global data indicate that 81% of COVID-19 cases are relatively mild, 14% evolve into more severe illness, and about 5% become critical, requiring supportive treatment such as oxygen and mechanical ventilation. Advanced age and pre-existing medical conditions are risk factors for severe outcomes. 

The massive influx of patients requiring medical attention for COVID-19 can overwhelm hospitals’ capacity to provide care for all who need it. Sharp increases in critical illnesses have already exhausted both biomedical supplies and personnel in some countries. For this reason, Etienne urged hospitals to develop surge plans and to ensure that health personnel have the personal protective equipment and training they need to prevent infection.

Currently there is no specific treatment for COVID-19. In severe cases, timely supportive therapy is key and includes oxygen, hydration and fever and pain relief.

PAHO experts are working with ministries of health in the Americas to prepare their countries’ health services to handle increased patient flows and to strengthen infection prevention and control.

“The course of the pandemic will depend on what measures countries take,” said Etienne. She said that three main scenarios are now unfolding in the countries of the Americas: clusters of COVID-19 cases related to imported cases; outbreaks in “closed spaces” such as nursing homes; and community transmission.

“Health personnel are the first line of defense against this pandemic. We must protect them so they can take care of all of us”.

Dr. Carissa F. Etienne

Many countries have already taken action to reduce the rate of transmission and protect their populations, ranging from declaring a state of emergency to closing borders, schools and universities, and promoting social distancing.

“PAHO continues to work with countries to provide support and respond together to this pandemic,” said Etienne. “We should expect all countries to report cases. We need to reduce transmission, flatten the curve and avoid situations that can overwhelm our hospitals and our health personnel to save lives.”

Source: PAHO News

20 Mar

Another ‘tragic milestone’: Reported cases of COVID-19 pass 200,000, says UN health chief

  • 20 March 2020 |

It took three months to reach the first 100,000 cases of COVID-19 but only 12 days to double that, to reach over 200,000, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Friday.

“Every day, COVID-19 seems to reach a new and tragic milestone”, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told journalists, revealing that the agency had received reports of more than 210,000 cases and over 9,000 people deaths.

While stressing that “every loss of life is a tragedy”, he maintained that it also provides “motivation to double down and do everything we can to stop transmission and save lives”.

Although older people are hardest hit, younger people are not spared, as data from many countries show that those under 50 make up a significant proportion of patients requiring hospitalization.

“Today, I have a message for young people: You are not invincible”, the WHO chief stressed. “This virus could put you in hospital for weeks, or even kill you.  Even if you don’t get sick, the choices you make about where you go could be the difference between life and death for someone else”.

Power to reverse pandemic

WHO is concerned if COVID-19 should gain a foothold in countries with weaker health systems, or with vulnerable populations, noting that it could lead to significant sickness and loss of life.

“But that is not inevitable”, said Mr. Ghebreyesus. “Unlike any pandemic in history, we have the power to change the way this goes”.
Citing that Wuhan, where coronavirus originated, reported no new cases for the first time since the outbreak started, he said that that “provides hope for the rest of the world, that even the most severe situation can be turned around”.

Nuts and bolts

While WHO is working actively to support all countries, the collapse of the personal protective equipment (PPE) market “has created extreme difficulties in ensuring health workers have access to the equipment they need to do their jobs safely and effectively”, said the WHO chief.

Fortunately, producers in China have agreed to supply WHO with PPE and arrangements are underway for shipments.

“We are also working hard to increase the global supply of diagnostic tests”, he said, noting that WHO is working to evaluate new diagnostics and secure the supply and equitable distribution of tests.

‘A new reality’

For challenged health systems, WHO’s guidelines help provide life-saving treatment without compromising the safety of health workers and include practical information on screening and triage, referral, care standards and more.

“We also have advice for individuals around the world, especially those who are now adjusting to a new reality”, he said, urging everyone to look after their physical and mental health. “This will not only help you in the long-term, it will also help you fight COVID-19 if you get it”.

And to increase access to reliable information, WHO has launched with WhatsApp and Facebook a new WHO Health Alert messaging service to provide the latest news and information on COVID-19, including details on symptoms and how to protect yourself.

Available only in English now, it will be introduced in other languages next week. To access the service, dial +41 798 931 892 on WhatsApp, and send the word “hi”.

In closing, Mr. Ghebreyesus acknowledged that “COVID-19 is taking so much from us”. 

“But”, he concluded “it’s also giving us something special – the opportunity to come together as one humanity – to work together, to learn together, to grow together”.

Practice self-care

•    Eat a healthy and nutritious diet to help your immune system function properly. 
•    Limit your alcohol consumption and avoid sugary drinks.
•    Don’t smoke as this can increase the risk of developing severe disease if infected with COVID-19.
•    Exercise 30 minutes each day for adults and one hour daily for children. 
•    If working at home, get up and take a three-minute break every half hour.
•    For good mental health, listen to music, read a book or play a game.
•    Speak to friends and loved ones.
•    Try not to read or watch too much news if it makes you anxious.
•    Get information from reliable sources once or twice a day.

source= UN News

17 Mar

On the job and open for business: The United Nations remains in solidarity with the Caribbean on COVID-19

  • 17 March 2020 |

As each individual and every country confronts coronavirus (COVID-19) and works to contain its impact, the United Nations System in the Caribbean confirms its readiness to support the people and governments of the region right to the end of this public health emergency.

The UN has taken steps to safeguard the health of its staff while sustaining its full operations so it can deliver to those most in need, particularly those who are most vulnerable to the impact of COVID-19. For many UN staff this already means working “from different locations, using different technologies” – in the words of the Secretary-General – to ensure the Organisation “remains open for business.”

In the Caribbean, this business includes providing technical assistance to governments on containing the virus and managing its impact; keeping everyone up to date on the latest information about the virus and its effect across the globe; and relaying PAHO/WHO’s advice to everyone on staying healthy and protecting each other while we battle this pandemic.

Our staff are also closely adhering to the guidelines and policies that host governments are introducing to manage the outbreak and protect residents, and we encourage each person to follow this guidance from the authorities in your own country. To complement this guidance, we also invite you to check updates from the UN (https://www.un.org/coronavirus) and advice for personal coronavirus prevention and care from WHO/PAHO (https://www.who.int/health-topics/coronavirus).  We’ll also keep you current about COVID-19 from our social media platforms.  

Across the Caribbean, in keeping with the Secretary-General’s global appeal to take care of each other, all staff are working to “keep each other safe, while continuing to deliver for the people we serve.”

Here are some WHO tips:

More information including frequently asked questions

17 Mar

5 things to know for effective teleworking (ILO)

  • 17 March 2020 |

The world of work is being profoundly affected by the global virus pandemic. In addition to the threat to public health, the economic and social disruption threatens the long-term livelihoods and wellbeing of millions. The ILO and its constituents – Governments, workers and employers – will play a crucial role in combating the outbreak, ensuring the safety of individuals and the sustainability of businesses and jobs.

Jon Messenger, the ILO’s expert on working conditions, shares his top five tips for effective teleworking during the COVID-19 crisis.


What can workers do?    


What Employers can do?


Efficient social dialogue at all levels is essential for quick and effective action.

Workers’ organisations can play an important role in participating in decision making and policies responses to the crisis on COVID-19. They can contribute to the prevention and protection of workers by giving reliable information. Workers’ organisations can promote solidarity and non-discrimination / stigmatisation of workers and sick persons.

Since COVID-19 spreads mainly through respiratory droplets good workplace hygiene practices are essential, e.g. regular hand-washing, using hand and surface sanitiser.

Avoid touching your face, cover your mouth when coughing or sneezing. If you feel unwell self-isolate and seek medical assistance.

Encourage responsible behaviour, cooperate with response measures and stay calm.


Educate the workforce and communicate regularly with employees

Reinforce good hygiene practices and take related safety precautions
When feasible, appoint an emergency management team
Monitor developments on a daily basis

Actively encourage sick employees to stay home and send sick employees home

Be mindful of the many different laws and policies implicated that relate to the coronavirus and its impact on the workplace and prepare contingency plans

Suspend or limit business travel
Quarantine potentially exposed employees

Consider having non-essential employees work remotely


More guidance



Email: unic.portofspain@unic.org 

Telephone: 1(868) 623 8438 or 623 4813


2nd Floor Bretton Hall, 16 Victoria Avenue, 

Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago