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COVID-19 WHO Philippines Situation Report #25 (29 April 2020)

Highlights

  • Out of the total 8,212 confirmed cases reported in the Philippines until today, 54% are male, with the most affected age group 30-39 years (19.6%) followed by 50-59 (17.1%)
  • 68.4% of cases reported from National Capital Region (NCR), followed by CALABARZON (13.8%), Central Visayas (6.7%) and Central Luzon (4.6%). The rapid increase in the number of cases in Central Visayas is attributed to several localized outbreaks in Cebu barangays and prisons.
  • Out of the 558 confirmed deaths, 66% are male, with the most affected age groups over 70 years and 60-69 years (both at 34.7%)
  • 68.9% of deaths reported from NCR, followed by CALABARZON (13.4%) and Central Luzon (5.3%)
  • Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) ramping up testing capacity for current 17 laboratories able to conduct COVID-19 tests. Ongoing assessments into more private and public hospital laboratories to expand the network.
  • Department of Health (DOH) conducting joint outbreak investigation with WHO and ICRC to rapidly respond to different clusters of COVID-19 cases reported throughout the country, including in prisons and hospitals.
  • Almost 4,000 hospital workers and community health workers trained on Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) through online trainings throughout the country
  • Distribution of Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) on-going to public hospitals in the country, with up to 84% of hospitals currently reported to DOH’s DataCollect App

WHO PHL SitRep 25_COVID-19_29Apr2020

COVID and women

Op-ed by Antonio Guterres

Early signs are that the COVID-19 virus poses a greater direct health risk to men, and particularly older men. But the pandemic is exposing and exploiting inequalities of all kinds, including gender inequality. In the long term, its impact on women’s health, rights and freedoms could harm us all.

Women are already suffering the deadly impact of lockdowns and quarantines. These restrictions are essential – but they increase the risk of violence towards women trapped with abusive partners. Recent weeks have seen an alarming global surge in domestic violence; the largest support organization in the UK reported a 700 percent increase in calls. At the same time, support services for women at risk face cuts and closures.

This was the background to my recent appeal for peace in homes around the world [link]. Since then, more than 143 governments have committed to supporting women and girls at risk of violence during the pandemic. Every country can take action by moving services online, expanding domestic violence shelters and designating them as essential, and increasing support to frontline organizations. The United Nations’ partnership with the European Union, the Spotlight Initiative [link], is working with governments in more than 25 countries on these and similar measures, and stands ready to expand its support.

But the threat to women’s rights and freedoms posed by COVID-19 goes far beyond physical violence. The deep economic downturn accompanying the pandemic is likely to have a distinctly female face.

The unfair and unequal treatment of working women is one reason why I went into politics. In the late 1960s, as a student volunteer doing social work in poor areas of Lisbon, I saw women in very difficult situations, doing menial jobs and carrying the weight of their extended families. I knew this had to change – and I have seen important change in my lifetime.

But decades later, COVID-19 threatens to bring back these conditions and worse, for many women around the world.

Women are disproportionately represented in poorly paid jobs without benefits, as domestic workers, casual labourers, street vendors, and in small-scale services like hairdressing. The International Labour Organization estimates that nearly 200 million jobs will be lost in the next three months alone – many of them in exactly these sectors.

And just as they are losing their paid employment, many women face a huge increase in care work due to school closures, overwhelmed health systems, and the increased needs of older people.

And let’s not forget the girls who have had their education cut short. In some villages in Sierra Leone, school enrolment rates for teenage girls fell from 50 to 34 percent after the Ebola epidemic, with lifelong implications for their wellbeing and that of their communities and societies.

Many men, too, are facing job losses and conflicting demands. But even at the best of times, women do three times as much domestic work as men. That means they are more likely to be called on to look after children if businesses open while schools remain closed, delaying their return to the paid labour force.

Entrenched inequality also means that while women make up seventy percent of healthcare workers, they are vastly outnumbered by men in healthcare management, and comprise just one in every ten political leaders worldwide – which harms us all. We need women at the table when decisions are taken on this pandemic, to prevent worst-case scenarios like a second spike in infections, labour shortages, and even social unrest.

Women in insecure jobs urgently need basic social protections, from health insurance to paid sick leave, childcare, income protection and unemployment benefits. Looking ahead, measures to stimulate the economy, like cash transfers, credits, loans and bailouts, must be targeted at women – whether they are working full-time in the formal economy, as part-time or seasonal workers in the informal economy, or as entrepreneurs and business owners.

The COVID-19 pandemic has made it clearer than ever that women’s unpaid domestic labour is subsidizing both public services and private profits. This work must be included in economic metrics and decision-making. We will all gain from working arrangements that recognize people’s caring responsibilities, and from inclusive economic models that value work in the home.

This pandemic is not only challenging global health systems, but our commitment to equality and human dignity.

With women’s interests and rights front and centre, we can get through this pandemic faster, and build more equal and resilient communities and societies that benefit everyone. [Ends]

Antonio Guterres is the secretary-general of the United Nations.

 

 

WHO COVID-19 Philippines Situation Report 23 (24 April 2020)

WHO PHL SitRep 23_COVID-19_24Apr2020

  • Out of the total 7,192 confirmed cases reported in the Philippines until today, 54% are male, with the most affected age group 30-39 years (19.3%) followed by 50-59 (17.3%)
  • 66.9% of cases reported from National Capital Region (NCR), followed by CALABARZON (14.4%) and Central Luzon (5.1%)
  • Out of the 477 confirmed deaths, 687.5% are male, with the most affected age group 60-69 years (34.6%) followed by over 70 years (34.0%)
  • 67.1% of deaths reported from NCR, followed by CALABARZON (14.3%) and Central Luzon (5.6%)
  • Enhanced Community Quarantine in NCR, CALABARZON, Central Luzon, and Cebu City extended until 15 May 2020 – So far, among over 2,000 UN staff members in the Philippines, 13 have tested positive: 10 from WHO, 2 from IOM, and 1 from UNICEF – Previous daily testing capacity restored at the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) in spite of temporary scaling down of operations due to cluster of confirmed cases. Ongoing assessments of private and public hospital laboratories to expand the current network of 17 laboratories able to conduct COVID-19 tests.
  • Ongoing investigations in different clusters of confirmed COVID-19 cases throughout the country, including in prisons and hospitals.
  • Over 2,200 hospital workers and community health workers trained on Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) through online trainings throughout the country

UN Secretary-General’s message on the beginning of Ramadan

I extend my warmest wishes as millions of Muslims around the world begin observing the holy month of Ramadan.

This will, of course, be a very different Ramadan.  Many community activities will naturally be affected by measures to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.  Meanwhile, many people in conflict zones will once again be tragically marking this month with war and insecurity all around.

I recently called for an immediate global ceasefire to focus on our common enemy — the virus.  I repeat that appeal today, recalling the words of the Holy Quran “and if they incline to peace, then incline to it”.

Ramadan is also about supporting the most vulnerable.  I thank governments and people throughout the Muslim world who live by their faith, supporting those fleeing conflict in the best Islamic tradition of hospitality and generosity — a remarkable lesson in this world where so many doors have been closed to those in need of protection, even before COVID-19.

Once again, my best wishes to all for mercy, solidarity and compassion in these trying times.

Ramadan Kareem.

UN Secretary-General’s message on the International Day of Multilateralism and Diplomacy for Peace, 24 April 2020

The COVID19 pandemic is a tragic reminder of how deeply connected we are. The virus knows no borders and is a quintessential global challenge.  Combatting it requires us to work together as one human family.

We must do all we can to save lives and ease the economic and social devastation.  Crucially, we need to draw the appropriate lessons about the vulnerabilities and inequalities the virus has laid bare, and mobilize investments in education, health systems, social protection and resilience.

This is the biggest international challenge since the Second World War.  Yet even before this test, the world was facing other profound transnational perils – climate change above all.

But multilateralism is not only a matter of confronting shared threats; it is about seizing common opportunities.  We now have the opportunity to build back better than in the past, aiming at inclusive and sustainable economies and societies.

It is not enough to proclaim the virtues of multilateralism; we must continue to show its added value.  International cooperation must adapt to changing times.

We need a networked multilateralism, strengthening coordination among all global multilateral organizations, with regional ones able to make their vital contributions; and an inclusive multilateralism, based on deep interaction with civil society, businesses, local and regional authorities and other stakeholders… where the voice of youth is decisive in shaping our future.

At this key moment for international cooperation, and in this 75th anniversary year of the United Nations, let us strive as one to realize the founders’ vision of a healthy, equitable, peaceful and more sustainable future for all. [Ends]

We are all in this together: Human rights and COVID-19 response and recovery

23 April 2020

Video message from the UN Secretary-General

 The COVID-19 pandemic is a public health emergency — but it is far more. 

 It is an economic crisis.  A social crisis.  And a human crisis that is fast becoming a human rights crisis.

In February, I launched a Call to Action to put human dignity and the promise of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights at the core of our work.

As I said then, human rights cannot be an afterthought in times of crisis — and we now face the biggest international crisis in generations.

Today, I am releasing a report highlighting how human rights can and must guide COVID-19 response and recovery.

The message is clear:  People — and their rights — must be front and centre. 

A human rights lens puts everyone in the picture and ensures that no one is left behind.

Human rights responses can help beat the pandemic, putting a focus on the imperative of healthcare for everyone.

But they also serve as an essential warning system — highlighting who is suffering most, why, and what can be done about it.

We have seen how the virus does not discriminate, but its impacts do — exposing deep weaknesses in the delivery of public services and structural inequalities that impede access to them.  We must make sure they are properly addressed in the response. 

We see the disproportionate effects on certain communities, the rise of hate speech, the targeting of vulnerable groups, and the risks of heavy-handed security responses undermining the health response.

Against the background of rising ethno-nationalism, populism, authoritarianism and a pushback against human rights in some countries, the crisis can provide a pretext to adopt repressive measures for purposes unrelated to the pandemic. 

This is unacceptable.

More than ever, governments must be transparent, responsive and accountable.  Civic space and press freedom are critical.  Civil society organizations and the private sector have essential roles to play.

And in all we do, let’s never forget:  The threat is the virus, not people.

We must ensure that any emergency measures — including states of emergency — are legal, proportionate, necessary and non-discriminatory, have a specific focus and duration, and take the least intrusive approach possible to protect public health.

The best response is one that responds proportionately to immediate threats while protecting human rights and the rule of law.

Looking ahead, we need to build back better.  The Sustainable Development Goals — which are underpinned by human rights — provide the framework for more inclusive and sustainable economies and societies.

Strengthening economic and social rights bolsters resilience for the long haul.

The recovery must also respect the rights of future generations, enhancing climate action aiming at carbon neutrality by 2050 and protecting biodiversity.

We are all in this together.

The virus threatens everyone.  Human rights uplift everyone.

By respecting human rights in this time of crisis, we will build more effective and inclusive solutions for the emergency of today and the recovery for tomorrow. [Ends]

IOM supports displaced persons and communities in fight against COVID-19 in the Philippines

Handwashing facility in Bagong Evacuation Centre, Kidapawan, Cotabato Province, southern Philippines. Photo: IOM

MANILA, Philippines – As the number of COVID-19 confirmed cases rises in the Philippines, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) is focusing on supporting against the spread of the pandemic the most vulnerable internally displaced persons (IDPs) and communities across the southern region of Mindanao.

Natural disasters and recurrent conflict have left nearly 300,000 IDPs across the country, primarily in Mindanao. IOM’s Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM) reveals these IDP communities lack access to basic livelihoods, live in close confinement in evacuation centres, and have limited access to health, water, sanitation and hygiene – all factors that significantly increase the risk of COVID-19 community transmission.

With the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases on 21 April reaching 6,459 – with 428 deaths – in a country of over 106 million people, IDPs and surrounding communities are considered particularly vulnerable.

Since October 2019, IOM has been working with local government units in the North Cotabato earthquake-affected areas to provide emergency and life-saving assistance, including shelter, camp management assistance and cash support to poor IDPs. Most of the nearly 200,000 earthquake-induced displaced people (more than 48,000 families), are staying in either makeshift shelters exposed to extreme weather elements, or in overcrowded evacuation centres with limited Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) facilities.

Because these living conditions put them at a higher risk of contracting and developing the infectious disease, IOM has been rapidly increasing its activities to prevent the spread of COVID-19 among the IDP communities. That effort has included the construction of 75 WASH facilities – latrines, handwashing stations, and bathing cubicles – in the displacement sites across North Cotabato. Community hygiene and disinfection kits also have been distributed to vulnerable sites to promote infection prevention in communal areas.

Finally, IOM is supporting local COVID-19 contingency planning, focusing on inclusion of communities in camp or camp-like settings.

Kristin Dadey, IOM Chief of Mission in the Philippines said, “We are racing against the clock to work with local government to implement initiatives that will protect the most fragile and displaced populations against COVID-19. This includes building additional water and sanitation facilities in the evacuation centres and implementing cash-for-work schemes that help poor families with no livelihoods to access essential supplies – such as food and medicines. With this, we aim to ensure socioeconomic protection for the IDPs as COVID-19 is having a devasting impact on the local economy.”

The activities are supported by funding from USAID’s Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA) and from United Nations Member States through the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF).

As part of IOM’s revised global COVID-19 Response Plan, the IOM Mission in the Philippines requires USD 6.3 million to support the Government’s efforts to address the health and socio-economic consequences of the pandemic.

For further information, please contact Troy Dooley at IOM Philippines, Tel: +639178133601, Email: tdooley@iom.int

UN Secretary-General’s remarks on International Mother Earth Day, 22 April 2020

On this International Mother Earth Day, all eyes are on the COVID-19 pandemic – the biggest test the world has faced since the Second World War.

We must work together to save lives, ease suffering and lessen the shattering economic and social consequences.

The impact of the coronavirus is both immediate and dreadful.

But there is another deep emergency — the planet’s unfolding environmental crisis.

Biodiversity is in steep decline.

Climate disruption is approaching a point of no return.

We must act decisively to protect our planet from both the coronavirus and the existential threat of climate disruption.

The current crisis is an unprecedented wake-up call.

We need to turn the recovery into a real opportunity to do things right for the future.

I am therefore proposing six climate-related actions to shape the recovery and the work ahead.

First: as we spend huge amounts of money to recover from the coronavirus, we must deliver new jobs and businesses through a clean, green transition.

Second: where taxpayers’ money is used to rescue businesses, it needs to  be tied to achieving green jobs and sustainable growth.

Third: fiscal firepower must drive a shift from the grey to green economy, and make societies and people more resilient

Fourth: public funds should be used to invest in the future, not the past, and flow to sustainable sectors and projects that help the environment and the climate.

Fossil fuel subsidies must end, and polluters must start paying for their pollution

Fifth: climate risks and opportunities must be incorporated into the financial system as well as all aspects of public policy making and infrastructure.

Sixth: we need to work together as an international community.

These six principles constitute an important guide to recovering better together.

Greenhouse gases, just like viruses, do not respect national boundaries.

On this Earth Day, please join me in demanding a healthy and resilient future for people and planet alike.

[Ends]

UN Secretary-General’s remarks to media on the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on children

New York, 16 April 2020

As the COVID-19 pandemic spreads across the globe, we are seeing an alarming pattern.

The poorest and most vulnerable members of society are being hardest hit, both by the pandemic and the response.

I am especially concerned about the well-being of the world’s children.

Thankfully, children have so far been largely spared from the most severe symptoms of the disease.

But their lives are being totally upended.

I appeal to families everywhere, and leaders at all levels: protect our children.

Today we are launching a report that highlights the risks they face.

First, education.

Almost all students are now out of school.

Some schools are offering distance learning, but this is not available to all.

Children in countries with slow and expensive Internet services are severely disadvantaged.

Second, food.

A staggering 310 million schoolchildren – nearly half of the world’s total – rely on school for a regular source of daily nutrition.

Even before Covid-19 the world faced unacceptable rates of childhood malnutrition and stunting.

Third, safety.

With children out of school, their communities in lockdown and a global recession biting deeper, family stress levels are rising.

Children are both victims and witnesses of domestic violence and abuse.

With schools closed, an important early warning mechanism is missing.

There is also a danger that girls will drop out of school, leading to an increase in teenage pregnancies.

And we must not ignore the growing risks children are facing as they spend more time online.

This can leave children vulnerable to online sexual exploitation and grooming.

A lack of face-to-face contact with friends and partners may lead to heightened risk-taking such as sending sexualized images.

And increased and unstructured time online may expose children to potentially harmful and violent content as well as greater risk of cyberbullying.

Governments and parents all have a role in keeping children safe.

Social media companies have a special responsibility to protect the vulnerable.

Fourth, health.

Reduced household income will force poor families to cut back on essential health and food expenditures, particularly affecting children, pregnant women, and breastfeeding mothers.

Polio vaccination campaigns have been suspended.

Measles immunization campaigns have stopped in at least 23 countries.

And as health services become overwhelmed, sick children are less able to access care.

With the global recession gathering pace, there could be hundreds of thousands additional child deaths in 2020.

These are just some of the findings of the report we are issuing today.

Its conclusion is clear.

We must act now on each of these threats to our children.

Leaders must do everything in their power to cushion the impact of the pandemic.

What started as a public health emergency has snowballed into a formidable test for the global promise to leave no one behind.

The report urges governments and donors to prioritize education for all children.

It recommends they provide economic assistance, including cash transfers, to low-income families and minimize disruptions to social and healthcare services for children.

We must also prioritize the most vulnerable – children in conflict situations; child refugees and displaced persons; children living with disabilities.

Finally, we must commit to building back better by using the recovery from COVID-19 to pursue a more sustainable and inclusive economy and society in line with the Sustainable Development Goals.

With the pandemic placing so many of the world’s children in jeopardy,
I reiterate my urgent appeal: let us protect our children and safeguard their well-being. [Ends]

UN Secretary-General’s Statement on Gender-Based Violence and COVID-19

New York, 5 April 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic is causing untold human suffering and economic devastation around the world.

I recently called for an immediate global ceasefire to focus on our shared struggle to overcome the pandemic.

I appealed for an end to violence everywhere, now.

But violence is not confined to the battlefield.

For many women and girls, the threat looms largest where they should be safest.

In their own homes.

And so I make a new appeal today for peace at home — and in homes — around the world.

We know lockdowns and quarantines are essential to suppressing COVID-19. But they can trap women with abusive partners.

Over the past weeks as economic and social pressures and fear have grown, we have seen a horrifying global surge in domestic violence.

In some countries, the number of women calling support services has doubled.

Meanwhile, healthcare providers and police are overwhelmed and understaffed.

Local support groups are paralyzed or short of funds. Some domestic violence shelters are closed; others are full.

I urge all governments to make the prevention and redress of violence against women a key part of their national response plans for COVID-19.

That means increasing investment in online services and civil society organizations.

Making sure judicial systems continue to prosecute abusers.

Setting up emergency warning systems in pharmacies and groceries.

Declaring shelters as essential services.

And creating safe ways for women to seek support, without alerting their abus

Women’s rights and freedoms are essential to strong, resilient societies.

Together, we can and must prevent violence everywhere, from war zones to people’s homes, as we work to beat COVID-19. [Ends]