#DonaldTrump, #PresidentTrump, #US, #Coronavirus, #COVID19
Washington, Mar 30 (Canadian-Media): United States (U.S.) President Donald Trump said on Sunday that the country is likely to see highest peak of the death rate in the next two weeks due to COVID 19 outbreak .
Donald Trump. Image credit: Facebook page
Trump said that he was convinced by the advice of the U.S. health experts and announced that there an extension of all federal coronavirus guidelines such as social distancing across the nation until at least Apr 30.
Recent times had seen a spike in the in COVID 19 cases in the US with the country registering 140,000 confirmed cases so far overtaking countries like China and Italy in the number of reported cases.
Total number of deaths due to Covid-19 recorded in the U.S. as of Sunday evening was 2,493, according to figures collated by Johns Hopkins University, reported BBC.
"The highest point in death rate is likely to hit in two weeks," he said.
"During this period it is important that everyone follows the guideline," he said.
Earlier he had hinted hinted that all restrictions might be relaxed as early as during Easter, which would be observed in mid-April.
Geneva, Mar 29 (Canadian-Media): Xiang Lu is one of the thousands of Chinese doctors who was dispatched to fight the COVID-19 outbreak in the hardest-hit province of Hubei, as it reached its peak. When UN News spoke to him on 23 March, he said that the situation is vastly improved and he may, at last, be able to return home, UN reports said.
Lu Xiang, Deputy Director of Jiangsu Medical Mission to Huangshi, Hubei during the COVID-19. Image credit: Provided by Lu Xiang
Since the original outbreak of the coronavirus in Hubei, China, at the end of January, 346 medical teams, from 29 Provinces in China, have been sent to Hubei to save lives, aiding local medical teams.
The hospital that Xiang oversees, the Yifu Affiliated Hospital of Nanjing Medical University, got notification to go on the mission, on 24 January, just before Chinese New Year, the most important time for people to return home and reunite with family. This is an edited and translated version of the interview conducted by our colleagues from the UN News Chinese team.
A battalion assembled overnight
Jiangsu Medical Mission at the airport to head to Hubei Province., provided by Lu Xiang
“So many medical staff volunteered to go, that they had to be put on a waiting list. The first batch of medical personnel, six doctors and nurses, was dispatched from our hospital on 25 January.
With over 30 years of experience, I was eager to contribute to the front line, but the severity and massive scale of the epidemic was also intimidating. I eventually got the phone call to go on 10 February, and I was told that I was going to lead a team to the city of Huangshi. In less than 24 hours, I had to assemble a temporary medical team of 310 people from a dozen hospitals, so I was really pressed.
I didn’t know some of the medical staff, and I’m not familiar with Huangshi, but I knew that my management and clinical experience would be helpful on the front line. All the people on the mission were very willing to participate in this battle. I remember feeling under pressure and stressed, but also full of confidence.
A patient recovering from COVID-19 after efforts by Lu Xiang and his medical team, provided by Lu XiangAt that time, the epidemic in Huangshi was close to its peak. By the time we arrived, there was close to 800 patients, including around 100 in a critical condition. The medical staff were very tired, and there was a shortage of protective materials.
Clearly, our medical team had arrived at the most difficult time and the most intense period of the battle against the virus. It was really difficult: if the conditions are poor, there is no way to fight the war.
No time to eat
For the first two weeks, we worked almost around the clock. There was almost no time to eat, let alone to contact our families. We renovated the hospital to increase the number of beds, and concentrated critical patients in one of the best-equipped hospitals.
I even worked as a temporary carpenter to transform general wards into intensive care wards that met the national standards overnight!
Although there is no medication to cure COVID-19, my experience is that it is important to diagnose and seek to treat patients as early as possible. I have seen some encouraging cases: a 93-year-old patient in critical condition recovered, and another patient was discharged from hospital after two rounds of ventilator intubation.
Doctors don’t fear hardships, but misunderstanding. Since the beginning, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the international organizations made objective assessments of China's fight against the epidemic and made correct decisions. I think this was a sign of solidarity and support.
Not being misunderstood by others is, I think, the most important thing. As doctors, we are not afraid of hardship, we ’re not afraid of fatigue. But we hope that people can understand us in the right way, especially in difficult times such as these.
Facing pandemic: Don’t Panic!Next week, my team will complete its mission and return home. I’m pleased to say that none of our medical team members and local medical staff were infected.
For the general public, my main message is “don’t panic!”.
When Wuhan saw a big rise in cases, many people were panicked, and flocked to the hospitals, which caused cross-infection. So, stay calm, and stay indoors whenever possible. This is the most important experience that I want to share.”
#UN; #IsraelPalestineCooperation; #COVID19Pandemic; #MiddleEastPeaceProcess
Geneva, Mar 29 (Canadian-Media): Nickolay Mladenov, the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, has praised the coordination between the Israeli and Palestine authorities in reacting to the COVID-19 pandemic, UN reports said.
Nickolay Mladenov, UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process and Personal Representative of the Secretary-General to the Palestine Liberation Organization and the Palestinian Authority. Image credit: UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe
Mr. Mladenov’s comments were made during a telephone conversation with the other members of the Middle East Quartet, a body set up to mediate the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. It is made up of representatives of the European Union, Russia, the USA, and the United Nations.
During the call, which took place on Thursday, Mr. Mladenov gave a detailed briefing on the UN COVID-19 response plan, focusing mainly on Gaza, where there is a substantial risk of the disease spreading.
In a statement released on Friday, the coordination and cooperation established between Israel and Palestine, with regard to tackling COVID-19, was described as “excellent”.
The Israeli and Palestinian authorities are continuing to coordinate their responses closely and constructively, the statement said, which is a major factor in the level of disease containment achieved so far.
The Israeli government has reportedly approved measures to limit the movement of people and trade, including closing schools and banning mass gatherings, whilst the Palestinian Prime Minister is reported to have ordered a lockdown on Sunday night.
Latest World Health Organization (WHO) figures show more than 3,300 confirmed cases in Israel, and more than 80 in the occupied Palestinian territories.
Since the beginning of the crisis, Israel has allowed the entry of critical supplies and equipment into Gaza: examples of critical supplies include swabs for collection of samples and other laboratory supplies required for COVID-19 testing, and Personal Protective Equipment to protect health workers.
The statement also noted Israel’s cooperation in allowing health workers and other personnel involved in the COVID-19 response to move in and out of the West Bank and Gaza.
#UN; #250,000FaceMasksDonations; #HealthWorkers; #COVID19Pandemic; #ventilators
New York, Mar 28 (Canadian-Media): The UN is to donate 250,000 face masks to health workers in New York City, where the Organization’s Headquarters are based, Secretary-General António Guterres announced on Saturday.
Normally busy subway trains in New York City are largely deserted.
Image credit: United Nations/Katya Pugacheva
In a statement, Mr. Guterres said that the face masks are part of UN stocks, deemed surplus to requirements, and are currently located in United Nations facilities in New York.
The UN chief praised medical professionals in New York City who, he said, have been working “courageously, selflessly, and tirelessly in response to the spread of COVID-19 across the boroughs,” in a reference to the five boroughs into which the City is administratively divided (Manhattan, Queens, The Bronx, Brooklyn and Staten Island).
Mr. Guterres went on to express his hope that the protective equipment will “play some small role in saving lives”.
Shortly after the statement was released, the governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo, said in a press conference that the spread of the virus is leaving people disorientated. The State is on lockdown and, said Mr. Cuomo, the peak of the virus is still forecast to be up to three weeks away.
728 people have died from COVID-19, said the New York governor, and the State is working on three hospitals dedicated to COVID-19 patients. The mayor of New York City, Bill de Blasio, said on Friday that the City needs some 15,000 ventilators to treat critically patients.
Noting that the UN speaks “with one voice to express our resolute support for this great city and its proud people”, the Secretary-General expressed his hope that the “modest donation” of face masks will makes a difference.
New York, declared Mr. Guterres is “not just our home or the headquarters of the United Nations. It is a vibrant international capital through which the world communicates, debates, trades, and prospers”.
United Nations and US Mission personnel are currently working with the Mayor’s office to ensure the swift delivery of the face masks to medical facilities around the city.
Peacekeeping radio stations provide COVID-19 information to vulnerable communities in conflict-affected countries
#Peacekeeping; #RadioStations; #ProvidieInformationAboutCoronavirus; #UNMISS; #WHO; #SocialMediaPlatforms; #Twitter
New York, Mar 27 (Canadian-Media): UN Peacekeeping radio stations have in recent decades helped build support for peace process in a dozen countries around the world including Cambodia, Croatia, Namibia and Timor-Leste, UN reports said.
David Shearer, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for South Sudan is interviewed on Radio Miraya by Lighthouse International Primary School student, Ayot Sandra Dominic. (June 2017). Image credit: UNMISS
Today, these stations are playing another vital role – getting the word out to vulnerable communities in conflict-affected states about the coronavirus pandemic and how people can protect themselves and others from getting the disease.
UN Peacekeeping currently has large, popular and trusted radio stations in four African countries: The Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Central African Republic, which have already recorded cases of COVID-19; and Mali and South Sudan which have not.
The stations ability to reach both big urban centers and isolated communities in countries which lack basic communications infrastructure, can play an important role in addressing the disease.
Providing accurate and timely information to the public and media about the UN’s role in COVID-19 prevention and preparedness and the impact on UN personnel and activities in the country is an operational necessity and fundamental to fighting the disease.
Radio Miraya, the station of the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), has for weeks been dedicating time and resources to provide the population on the pandemic. Based in the capital Juba, Miraya has the largest reach of any broadcaster in South Sudan and due to an effective relay system can be heard throughout most of the country.
“For the great majority of people across South Sudan there is no internet, television or newspapers available. So how do people get their news? Some by word of mouth, but mostly from Radio Miraya,” said David Shearer, the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for South Sudan and Head of UNMISS.
He added: “We know from a public opinion survey that Radio Miraya is available across over two-thirds of this vast country and that 80 per cent of those it reaches listen to it every day. That literally makes Radio Miraya a communication lifeline for communities in times of crisis.”
Radio Miraya reports the latest news about the global epidemic and the impact it may have on South Sudan. It also runs public service announcements (PSAs), including recently written songs by popular artists on the best practices to prevent any eventual outbreak for starting or spreading, such as handwashing and social distancing.
In South Sudan, Radio Miraya’s ‘critical role’
Right now, with the onset of the coronavirus, Miraya is playing an especially critical role.
Its staff is working long hours to broadcast public health messages from WHO on how people can keep themselves safe. It constantly updates on the Government’s plans and preparations for the virus as well as providing more in-depth coverage of how the virus is impacting communities. It also reports on the situation in other countries linking South Sudanese to the news across the world so they can understand its impact globally.
“It’s not just dull health warnings. We’re also taking an innovative approach playing songs and jingles by South Sudanese musicians and offering light-hearted tips about how to have fun and relax while staying safe. That improves the chance to reach all audiences, including young people. We will try pretty much anything to get the message across if it will help the people we are here to serve,” Mr. Shearer said.
In South Sudan and in the other countries hosting peacekeeping operations, the UN radio stations have echoed the Secretary-General’s recent call for a global ceasefire so the world can concentrate its efforts on the response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Peacekeeping radio stations cooperate with public and private broadcasters in the countries where they operate. The often provide their national counterparts with content, public service announcements, and training. Never has this cooperation been more crucial than today.
But radio is not the only communications tool available to UN Peacekeeping, and the missions’ social media platforms are also being put to good use. Providing the public with simple messages and important facts on the disease can be quickly and effectively done via Twitter, Facebook or other social media that may be popular in the country.
A better-informed public is key to helping fight the pandemic. And peacekeeping radio is playing its part.
#UN; #HealthcareHeroes; Protection; #OlderPersons;
Geneva, Mar 27 (Canadian-Media): States and business leaders must step up efforts to ensure that the selfless doctors, nurses, first-responders and other medical professionals working on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic receive adequate protective equipment, a UN rights expert said on Friday.
A patient has recovered after efforts by Lu Xiang and his medical team dispatched from Jiangsu Province to Huangshi, Hubei due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Image credit: Provided by Lu Xiang
“Their tireless work and self-sacrifice show the best of humanity”, said Baskut Tuncak, Special Rapporteur on the implications for human rights of the environmentally sound management and disposal of hazardous substances and wastes.
Hailing the healthcare workers as “heroes” who “must be protected”, he stressed that unacceptable shortages in critical protective equipment that can stop them from being infected, continue to plague nearly all nations battling the new coronavirus.
Moreover, low-income countries have even fewer resources, including the necessary protection for their healthcare providers.
“Public and private funds are urgently needed to ensure that protective equipment and other medical supplies are universally available and accessible”, he stated. “States and businesses should ensure that financial obstacles are removed and that supplies are provided at no cost for low-income countries”.
“It is time to put aside our differences and to work together to protect the most vulnerable people from this virus, the elderly and those who bravely care for them: our health care workers”, said the independent rights expert.
Safeguard older persons
Focusing on another vulnerable segment of the population, in societies across the globe, older persons, who are bearing the lion’s share of the pandemic, must also be fully protected from the infection, argued Rosa Kornfeld-Matte on Friday, UN independent expert on the enjoyment of all human rights by older persons, saying that they are “bearing the lion’s share of the pandemic”.
“Reports of abandoned older persons in care homes or of dead corpses found in nursing homes are alarming”, she underscored.
Calling it “unacceptable”, the UN independent expert said, “we all have the obligation to exercise solidarity and protect older persons from such harm.”
In addition to a disproportionate risk of death, they are also under threat due to the extra special care they may need, or through also put them under threat, as does living in high-risk environments, such as residential homes, according to the expert.
The elderly with underlying health conditions, the socially excluded and those poverty-stricken or living in confined spaces, such as care homes and prisons and residential care homes, are of particular concern.
“Older persons have become highly visible in the COVID 19 outbreak but their voices, opinions and concerns have not been heard”, she flagged.
“Instead, the deep-rooted ageism in our societies has become even more apparent”, she said, pointing to “some cruel and dehumanizing language on social media”.
She closed with a call to continue support services at home and in communities “without putting older persons and their care providers at risk”.
“Communities and generations must come together to get through this crisis in solidarity,” Ms. Kornfeld-Matte concluded.
Domestic violence risk rises
Meanwhile, the UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women, Dubravka Simonovic, pointed out that restrictive measures to fight COVID-19 are intensifying the risk of domestic violence.
"It is very likely that rates of widespread domestic violence will increase, as already suggested by initial police and hotline reports”, she said.
For many women and children, home can be a place of fear and abuse that is heightened by the COVID-19 pandemic", she warned.
"All States should make significant efforts to address the COVID -19threat, but they should not leave behind women and children victims of domestic violence, as this could lead to an increase of domestic violence including intimate partner femicides", Ms. Simonovic upheld in a statement.
To make matters worse, movement restrictions and financial constraints “embolden perpetrators and provide them with additional power and control".
Ms. Simonovic expressed particular concerns about women at higher risk of domestic violence, such asAnd women with disabilities, undocumented migrant women and victims of trafficking are at even higher risk of domestic violence.
The UN expert called on governments not to put the protection of victims on hold and urged them to continue to combat domestic violence in time of COVID-19.
Measures to protect victims must remain available or be adopted during the crisis. That includes ensuring access to protection by restraining orders and maintaining safe shelters and help lines for the victims, she said.
Ms. Simonovic called on Governments to come up with urgent measures to assist these victims.
"Governments must not allow the extraordinary circumstances and restrictive measures against COVID-19 to lead to the violation of women's right to a life free from violence", concluded the UN expert.
Click here for a list of the nine UN independent experts who endorsed Ms. Simonovic statement.
#UNICRF; #COVID19Pandemic; #LifesavingVaccinations;
Geneva, May 26 (Canadian-Media): Around the world, the COVID-19 pandemic is overstretching health services, medical goods are in short supply, and transport disruptions have left supply chains facing “historic strain”, according to the head of the United Nations Children’s Fund, UNICEF.
Twenty-six year old Mama Bwanga takes her baby to at a health centre in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Image credit: UNICEF/Brown
As health workers are diverted to support the response, “physical distancing is leading parents to make the difficult decision to defer routine immunization”, Henrietta Fore said in a statement on Thursday, adding that flight cancellations and trade restrictions have “severely constrained access to essential medicines, including vaccines”.
“As the pandemic progresses, critical life-saving services, including immunization, will likely be disrupted, especially in Africa, Asia and the Middle East, where they are sorely needed”, she stated, highlighting that children from the poorest families in conflict and natural disaster-affected countries were at “the greatest risk”.
Measles, cholera, polio – immunization essential
UNICEF is “particularly concerned” about countries battling measles, cholera or polio outbreaks while simultaneously responding to COVID-19 cases. Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Somalia, the Philippines, Syria and South Sudan fall into that category.
Not only would such outbreaks tax already stretched health services, they could also result in more deaths and greater suffering.
“At a time like this, these countries can ill-afford to face additional outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases”, asserted the UNICEF chief.
“The message is clear: We must not allow lifesaving health interventions to fall victim to our efforts to address COVID-19”.
UNICEF is committed to supporting basic health care and immunization needs in the worst affected countries in a way that limits the risk of COVID-19 transmission, by working to ensure adequate vaccine supplies in countries that need them.
The agency is working with global vaccine suppliers to ensure production, and providing support to governments to maintain vaccine supplies during the pandemic.
Physical distancing is leading parents to make the difficult decision to defer routine immunization
While Governments may have to temporarily postpone mass vaccination campaigns to ensure that delivering immunizations does not contribute to spreading the coronavirus, UNICEF “strongly recommends” that Governments begin “rigorous planning now”, to intensify immunization programmes once the pandemic is under control.
“These vaccination activities must focus on children who will miss vaccine doses during this period of interruption and prioritize the poorest and most vulnerable children”, Ms. Fore explained.
To successfully roll-out an effective vaccine against COVID-19, when it becomes available, immunization programmes must remain robust and accessible to those that most need inoculations.
“As the world's biggest buyer and supplier of vaccines, UNICEF will continue to play a pivotal role in supporting governments’ current and future immunization efforts”, the UNICEF chief concluded.
Students missing out
Meanwhile, as nationwide school closures disrupt education for more than 80 per cent of students around the world, UNICEF announced that it would scale up support in 145 nations to help learning continue, safely.
“It is an unprecedented situation and unless we collectively act now to protect children’s education, societies and economies will feel the burden long after we’ve beaten COVID-19”, said Robert Jenkins, UNICEF Global Chief of Education. “In the most vulnerable communities, the impact will span generations”.
Based on lessons learned with the school closures in response to the Ebola epidemics of recent years, UNICEF maintains that the longer children stay away from school, the less likely they are to ever return.
Giving children alternative ways to learn also rebuilds a routine, which is critical to the coronavirus response.
UNICEF has allocated $13 million to support Governments and education partners to develop plans for a rapid, system-wide response to include alternative learning programs and mental health support.
#Wuhan; #COVID19; #Lockdown; #SelfIsolation; #Mental&PhysicalPreparation
Wuhan (China), Mar 26 (Canadian-Media): Many countries have recently begun to introduce lockdown measures that have led to many citizens having to spend much, if not all, of their time at home. For those in Wuhan, China, where COVID-19 is believed to have originated, the period of self-isolation has lasted around two months. UN News spoke to Dizi*, a Wuhan resident, to find out how she has been coping. The interview has been translated.
On Feb 26, a shipment of adult diapers donated by UNFPA arrived in Wuhan and was distributed to local hospitals. Image credit: UNFPA China
When the shutdown happened it felt a little sudden, because it began on January 23, the same day I came to my parents’ home for a visit. In fact, there was no time to respond. I felt the epidemic was very serious at that time, but I didn’t anticipate how long it would last. At that time, I thought that the lockdown would probably last for a few weeks.
As time went on, the lockdown become more and more strict. In the first week or two, residents could go out to buy vegetables, or other goods, and supermarkets were open. Then, with more and more serious cases of the virus, it was suggested that the elderly should stay indoors and not go out at all.
Most people were not allowed to enter or leave the community, apart from doctors, nurses and some workers with a pass.
Mental and physical preparations
Books read by a Wuhan resident during Covid-19 quarantine, by DiziI remember during the first two or three days, I looked at my phone for 13 hours a day, that is to say, whenever I was awake. I was checking the news about the virus, because the number of cases in Wuhan were going up too much in those days, and nobody was really sure how many patients there were, or how many beds were available. So, I was nervous.
Before the shutdown I was being treated for depression, with antidepressant drugs. Once the epidemic hit, I couldn’t get access to the medicine, so I decided to find other ways to cope, by exercising more, getting some sun on my face every day, and reading books I’ve never got around to starting.
The confinement period was longer than expected, and I think that most people weren’t prepared for it. At first, we thought it was a week, then a fortnight, then it was a month, and now it has been two months.
Having a daily routine is very important, as is keeping up with regular activities. Reading is the simplest, then practicing a musical instrument: engaging in artistic activities, which can really make you feel better and, when you concentrate to practice, you will soon forget other problems.
Keeping it in the family
It can be hard being cooped up too long with the family: I only planned to visit my parents for a week, but now it’s been a long time!
I think that being together has allowed us to show more love for each other. Dizi*, Wuhan resident
If there is some friction with the family due to the small space, we can actually find ways to avoid it. For example, during certain periods of the day, the three of us will stay in different rooms: one person in the living room, one person in the study, and the other person reading in the bedroom, or exercising outside, so that everyone has different space for activities.
In fact, I think that being together has allowed us to show more love for each other. For example, my father couldn't go out to have his hair cut, so he let me do it for him. This was the first time since I've grown up that I’ve cut his hair, and it made us both very happy.
The importance of communication
News about the development of the epidemic has been continuously broadcast on a rolling basis every day, with experts invited to tell the public about medical problems that need to be paid attention to, including psychological counselling.
Hubei TV, our local station, frequently interviews volunteers, so that we can see what ordinary people around us can do in this situation. Not only is it some positive news, it also shows how ordinary people have great power.
As for my team at work, we report our health condition in the group every day. We also ask everyone in the community what kind of food they need every week or two. And, if old people urgently need medicine, the community can go and buy it for them.
A lot of useful information is on the internet, but there’s also a lot of negativity out there, so it’s important to spend time communicating with loved ones and close friends. Once this is passed, we will still want to live with them or have a close relationship with them! So, don’t fill your time by looking at negative social network posts.
Respect for front-line workers
We certainly need to show our respect and gratitude for those who can’t stay at home. Without the doctors, nurses, and community workers, we wouldn’t have been able to contain this virus.
But we’re also making a contribution if we protect ourselves, don't catch cold, don't get sick, don't go to the hospital, and don't become a burden to anyone. And most importantly, stay at home!
Maybe after the epidemic is over, we will meet community workers or volunteers, as well as medical personnel, and show them even more respect than before.
A changed outlook on life
This experience has definitely changed my outlook on life. I have stayed at home for two months, and it feels as if the world has become smaller, and larger at the same time. I mean that, although my movements have become limited, I can still get a lot of information. I now know a lot about infectious diseases, and my own health habits. My relationship with my family members is much closer than before, and I’ve got back in touch with old friends I hadn’t heard from in many years.
We’ve also seen, since the early days of the virus, so many people volunteering, helping to find protective clothing, and offering psychological assistance. It makes me feel that these things may have been something I didn't pay attention to before.
And for me, personally, as someone who has had some emotional problems, this has been a time for rest and study. Initially, I felt helpless, but now I can calmly accept the loss of free movement. And, if something similar happens in the future, I think I will be able to deal with it.
Name changed to protect the interviewee’s anonymity.
#NewYork; #EpicentreOfCoronavirus; #socialDistancing; #US; #USPresident; #DonaldTrump
New York, Mar 26 (Canadian-Media): New York, the epicenter of the domestic outbreak in the United States (U.S.), accounts for more than 30,000 cases and close to 300 deaths, most of them in New York City, media reports said.
New York epicenter of Coronavirus. Image credit: Pixaby
The growing fear of hospitals in the U.S. being overwhelmed by the number of sick patients, as has happened in Italy and Spain, has resulted in Public health officials calling for more doctors and nurses.
The police in the city has been patrolling nearly empty streets to force social distancing.
With the efforts to stall the spread of deadly COVID19 pandemic, the U.S. President Donald Trump in Washington has made a call to Americans to dedicate themselves to social distancing for 15 days, including staying home from work and closing bars and restaurants.
"The LameStream Media is the dominant force in trying to get me to keep our Country closed as long as possible in the hope that it will be detrimental to my election success," Trump tweeted Wednesday.
There had been complaints among the democrats that Trump was prioritizing the economy over the health and safety of Americans.
Joe Biden, the front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination said the congressional aid package addressing the outbreak "goes a long way," but that "meticulous oversight" is required.
"We're going to need to make sure the money gets out quickly into peoples' pockets and to keep a close watch on how corporations are using the taxpayers funds that they receive, to make sure it goes to help workers, not rich CEOs or shareholders," Biden said.
#livelihoods, #PaidLeave, SocialProtection, SocialSecurity; HealthInsurance, #unemployment #benefits, #poverty, #householdIncome, vulnerableGroups, #medicalCare, #occupationalHealthServices, #safety #management
Geneva, Mar 25 (Canadian-Media): Governments must use the momentum created by the COVID-19 pandemic to make rapid progress toward collectively financed, comprehensive, and permanent social-protection systems, International Labour Organization (ILO) reports said.
Vulnerable people: Pixaby
If the COVID-19 pandemic has sent the world one message, it is that we are only as safe as the most vulnerable among us. Those who are unable to quarantine themselves or to get treatment endanger their own lives and the lives of others, and if one country cannot contain the virus, others are bound to be infected, or even re-infected. And yet, around the world, social-protection systems are failing miserably at safeguarding the lives and livelihoods of vulnerable groups.
Nearly 40% of the world’s population has no health insurance or access to national health services. Some 800 million people spend at least 10% of their household budget on health care each year, and 100 million people fall into poverty because of medical expenses. This means that many simply lack the means to seek treatment when they are sick – including when they have highly contagious diseases like COVID-19.
Compounding the problem, an overwhelming majority of workers lack the economic security to take sick leave or cope with an unexpected emergency. With less than two-thirds of all countries having a social insurance and/or social assistance scheme in place providing sickness benefits, the ill are often forced to choose between endangering personal and public health and paying their bills.
Not surprisingly, unemployment protections are also severely inadequate, despite their critical role in supporting household incomes and stabilizing aggregate demand. Already, enterprises that depend on suppliers in outbreak-affected regions or that face reduced demand due to lockdowns and other containment measures have come under immense pressure. Hundreds of thousands of jobs are now in peril . And yet only one in five unemployed people worldwide can count on unemployment benefits .
In fact, as it stands, 55% of the world’s population – about four billion people – do not benefit from any form of social protection whatsoever, with many countries relying on market-based solutions (which only some can afford) to fill the gaps. As the COVID-19 pandemic starkly demonstrates, this does not only hurt the poorest and most vulnerable; it threatens the wellbeing of entire societies and of the entire global community.
This is not news to world leaders. After the last global catastrophe – the 2008 financial crisis – the international community unanimously adopted the International Labor Organization (ILO) Social Protection Floors Recommendation (No. 202), thereby committing to establish minimal levels of protection that would form the basis of comprehensive social security systems.
In 2015, world leaders took another promising step forward, when they agreed to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development . Many of the Sustainable Development Goals advance the social-protection imperative. For example, target 3.8 aims to “achieve universal health coverage, including financial risk protection, access to quality essential health-care services, and access to safe, effective, quality and affordable essential medicines and vaccines for all.” Target 10.4 calls for countries to “adopt policies, especially fiscal, wage and social protection policies, and progressively achieve greater equality.” Target 1.3, finally, aims to “implement nationally appropriate social protection systems and measures for all, including floors, and by 2030 achieve substantial coverage of the poor and the vulnerable”.
But, as the COVID-19 crisis makes clear, not nearly enough progress has been made. If the pandemic has a silver lining, one hopes that it spurs governments to expand access to health services, sickness benefits, and unemployment protection. After all, evidence shows that such spending has a larger positive multiplier effect on the economy than other measures such as tax reductions for higher-income earners, extension of credit to first-time homebuyers and some corporate tax provisions, and can support social and political stability.
Of course, there is still the question of how to pay for it. The ILO estimates that, for developing economies, the average financing gap for implementing an adequate social-protection floor is equivalent to 1.6% of national GDP. For low-income countries, that gap is much larger: around 5.6% of GDP. They are unlikely to have enough fiscal space to close that gap on their own.
Yet the world has never been as wealthy as it is today. Pandemic-induced recession or not, we can mobilize the necessary resources. To this end, countries should implement corporate-tax reforms aimed at ensuring that multinationals contribute their fair to public coffers. Progressive income and wealth taxes, as well as policies to reduce illicit financial flows, would also help.
But these measures would take time to have an effect, and with the pandemic already disrupting economic activity and decimating incomes and demand, speed is crucial. In the immediate term, both developed and developing countries need more flexibility for deficit financing and concessional international borrowing to support investments in social-protection systems.
Many governments – particularly in countries with health-care systems funded by social contributions or taxes – are already increasing spending, in order to ensure access to necessary services during the COVID-19 crisis, including by integrating prevention, testing, and treatment measures into benefit packages. South Korea, for example, conducts thousands of COVID-19 tests each day in government-funded drive-through testing centers.
Moreover, a number of governments have ramped up economic support to households and businesses. Hong Kong, Ireland, and the United Kingdom have extended sickness benefits to quarantined or self-quarantined workers. Germany and the Netherlands are offering partial unemployment benefits to workers whose hours have been cut due to plummeting demand.
Similarly, China, France, Portugal, and Switzerland have broadened eligibility for unemployment benefits to include workers at businesses that have been ordered to close temporarily, while Australia, China, and Portugal have expanded social assistance for vulnerable populations. And many countries – such as China, France, and Thailand – have delayed deadlines for social-security and tax payments.
But these measures are just a first step. Governments must use the momentum created by the current crisis to make rapid progress toward collectively financed, comprehensive, and universal social-protection systems. Only then will our societies and economies be able to weather the COVID-19 pandemic – and the other crises to come.