World leaders have recognised that COVID-19 is indeed an enemy to humanity, and they are taking very proactive measures at all levels to bring a halt to the further spread of the disease, and reduce its impact on people everywhere.
COVID-19 has really caught the world by surprise, and its massive economic and social impacts on countries will no doubt be felt in years to come. At the moment, the deadly disease has a foothold across the globe, and is now reaching countries that were already facing humanitarian crises because of conflict, natural disasters and climate change.
Many of these countries were also already facing tough economic times, and now, with the challenge of battling COVID-19, one could only imagine how some of them would survive this difficult period. In fact, experts have suggested that some countries would enter into recession as the economic toll would be very heavy due to job losses, closure of industries, and overburdened healthcare systems etc.
On Wednesday, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres, along with other top officials, launched a US$2 billion coordinated global humanitarian response plan to fight COVID-19 in some of the world’s most vulnerable countries.
The UN initiative is being viewed by international development partners as a major step to protect millions of people and stop the virus from re-circling the globe. The response plan will be implemented by UN agencies, with international NGOs playing a direct role in the response.
According to the UN, the plan seeks to: 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 persons can protect themselves and others from the virus; and establish air-bridges and hubs across Africa, Asia and Latin America to move humanitarian workers and supplies to where they are needed most.
Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, Mark Lowcock, was quoted during the launch as saying that COVID-19 has already upended life in some of the world’s wealthiest countries. It is now reaching places where people live in war zones, cannot easily access clean water and soap, and have no hope of a hospital bed if they fall critically ill.
He added that to leave the world’s poorest and most vulnerable countries to their fate would be both cruel and unwise. He noted that if the coronavirus is left to spread freely in these places, millions of people would be at high risk, whole regions would be tipped into chaos, and the virus would have the opportunity to circle back around the globe. The UN’s priority is to help these countries prepare and continue helping the millions who rely on humanitarian assistance from the UN to survive.
We support the call for UN member states to act now, by committing to stem the impact of COVID-19 in vulnerable countries and contain the virus globally by giving the strongest possible support to the plan. Certainly, individual country responses are not enough; there is need for a major international response, hence the initiative taken by the UN is laudable, as this now means there would be funding for crucial programmes aimed at bringing a halt to the disease. As stated by the UN head, COVID-19 is menacing the whole of humanity, and so the whole of humanity must fight back.
That said, Guyana must continue to be vigilant, and ensure that all steps as laid out by the World Health Organisation (WHO) to prevent the further spread of the disease are followed. Citizens also have a very important role to play in ensuring they heed the advisories being issued by the health authorities. So far, there has been no new confirmed case, other than the five persons who were tested positive and quarantined last week. This is indeed good news.