Paralyzing trade over COVID-19 could endanger global food security â UN experts
Shoppers queue at a grocery store in Araneta Ave. in Quezon City last March 27, 2020.
The STAR/Michael Varcas

Paralyzing trade over COVID-19 could endanger global food security — UN experts

Ratziel San Juan (Philstar.com) - April 1, 2020 - 1:20pm

MANILA, Philippines — International experts in health, trade and food security advised countries affected by the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) epidemic to ensure that their respective containment efforts do not hamper trade activity and shortsightedly cause food shortages that could worsen the crisis.

“Millions of people around the world depend on international trade for their food security and livelihoods,” the World Health Organization, World Trade Organization and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations said in a joint statement posted Tuesday locally.

“As countries move to enact measures aiming to halt the accelerating COVID-19 pandemic, care must be taken to minimize potential impacts on the food supply or unintended consequences on global trade and food security... countries should ensure that any trade-related measures do not disrupt the food supply chain.”

Potentially harmful measures which are said to “result in the spoilage of perishables and increasing food waste” include restricting the movement of agricultural and food industry workers, as well as extending border delays for food containers.

RELATED: Frontliners too: 'Healthy' farmers, fishers exempted from quarantine restrictions

“Uncertainty about food availability can spark a wave of export restrictions, creating a shortage on the global market. Such reactions can alter the balance between food supply and demand, resulting in price spikes and increased price volatility,” read the joint statement.

RELATED: All cargoes now allowed to pass through checkpoints to ensure adequate food supply amid lockdown

“We learned from previous crises that such measures are particularly damaging for low-income, food-deficit countries and to the efforts of humanitarian organizations to procure food for those in desperate need.”

The WHO, WTO and FAO recommended the guaranteeing of free trade, protection of food producers and workers at processing and retail levels, and making sure that food is accessible for consumers within their communities under strict safety requirements.

They also suggested providing real-time information on food-related trade measures, levels of food production, consumption and stocks, and food prices.

“This reduces uncertainty and allows producers, consumers and traders to make informed decisions. Above all, it helps contain ‘panic buying’ and the hoarding of food and other essential items,” the statement read.

“Now is the time to show solidarity, act responsibly and adhere to our common goal...We must ensure that our response to COVID-19 does not unintentionally create unwarranted shortages of essential items and exacerbate hunger and malnutrition.”

As of Tuesday, the Philippines recorded 2,084 cases of the deadly virus with 88 fatalities and 49 recoveries.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres described the coronavirus pandemic as the worst global crisis since World War II.

Guterres said the crisis was due to "a disease that represents a threat to everybody in the world and... an economic impact that will bring a recession that probably has no parallel in the recent past."

A total of 40,057 deaths have been recorded across the world, including 29,305 in Europe, with Italy registering 12,428, followed by Spain with 8,189 and China with 3,305.

Since the virus emerged in China in December, 803,645 global infections have been confirmed, more than half of them in Europe, which has 440,928. — with Agence France-Presse

 

FAO FOOD AND AGRICULTURE ORGANIZATION OF THE UNITED NATIONS NOVEL CORONAVIRUS WHO WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION WORLD TRADE ORGANIZATION WTO
As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: January 28, 2021 - 8:21pm

Follow this page for updates on a mysterious pneumonia outbreak that has struck dozens of people in China.

January 28, 2021 - 8:21pm

The novel coronavirus has killed at least 2,176,000 people since the outbreak emerged in China in December 2019, according to a tally from official sources compiled by AFP at 1100 GMT on Thursday.

At least 100,829,870 cases of coronavirus have been registered. Of these, at least 61,298,900 are now considered recovered.

These figures are based on daily tolls provided by health authorities in each country and exclude later re-evaluations by statistical organisations, as has happened in Russia, Spain and Britain. —  AFP

January 27, 2021 - 12:27pm

Hong Kong has begun using "ambush lockdowns" to suddenly close off and test everyone inside neighbourhoods where coronavirus cases have spiked, as a spate of recent outbreaks lay bare the rampant inequality in the wealthy Chinese finance hub.

Police cordoned off a row of densely packed tenement buildings in the Yau Ma Tei area overnight on Tuesday through to Wednesday morning to conduct mandatory tests.

The new tactic involves authorities giving no warning of an impending lockdown.

City leader Carrie Lam said such "ambush style" lockdowns were needed to ensure people did not flee before testers move in.

"I thank residents in the restricted area for their cooperation," she wrote on her Facebook page Wednesday as the lockdown was lifted. —AFP

January 26, 2021 - 1:07pm

Mexico's coronavirus death toll has surpassed 150,000, the government says, a day after President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador announced he had Covid-19.

The health ministry reports 659 more deaths in its daily update, taking the total to 150,273, behind only the United States, Brazil and India.

The overall number of infections registered now stands at more than 1.77 million in the nation of around 128 million, an increase of 8,521 from the previous day. — AFP

January 26, 2021 - 11:41am

Thousands of Australians defy coronavirus rules to protest the country's national day, held on the anniversary of British colonization of the vast continent that its Indigenous population brands "Invasion Day".

Officially recognized as Australia Day, January 26 also sees annual rallies drawing attention to the injustices faced by Indigenous people and calling on the government to change the date of the national holiday.

The celebration of the origins of the modern nation is a time of mourning for Indigenous Australians, who have inhabited the land for 65,000 years and view the arrival of British settlers in 1788 as the beginning of two centuries of pain and suffering.

Thousands of people gathered at a central Sydney park in defiance of police threats of fines and arrests for breaching a 500-person limit on gathering in public places, though organizers called off a march through the city that usually follows. — AFP

January 26, 2021 - 7:38am

The Netherlands was hit by a second wave of riots Monday evening, as protesters again went on the rampage in several cities following the introduction of a coronavirus curfew over the weekend.

Riot police clashed with groups of protesters in Amsterdam as well as the port city of Rotterdam, where people smashed shop windows and ransacked their supplies.  

The unrest also hit Amersfoort in the east, the small southern city of Geleen near Maastricht, The Hague and Den Bosch, police and news reports said.

More than 70 people had been rounded up by 2200 GMT, public newscaster NOS reported.

Geleen police said in an earlier tweet that they were dealing with "rioting youths who are throwing fireworks". — AFP

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