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

Ratziel San Juan - Philstar.com
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

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: November 27, 2021 - 9:10am

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

November 27, 2021 - 9:10am

An anti-Covid pill developed by Merck has proved effective in treating the disease, the US Food and Drug Administration says in a much-awaited preliminary report.  

But the report, from an FDA advisory panel, cautioned that pregnant women should not use the drug, known as molnupiravir, saying the potential benefits do not outweigh the risks for those patients.

The report is meant to provide guidance to an FDA experts panel convening Tuesday to consider whether to authorize emergency use of molnupiravir. — AFP

November 25, 2021 - 12:01pm

More than 100,000 people have died of Covid-19 in Germany since the start of the pandemic, a public health agency announces Thursday.

Europe's largest economy is battling a fresh surge in coronavirus cases, and recorded 351 fatalities in the past 24 hours, bringing the total death toll to 100,119, according to figures from the Robert Koch Institute.

As infections reach a record high and intensive care units fill up, the health crisis is posing an immediate challenge to the new coalition government set to take over from Angela Merkel's cabinet. — AFP

November 23, 2021 - 7:02am

Covid infections are on the rise in South African weeks ahead of an expected fourth wave in December, the country's national health laboratory service says Monday.

The National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) reports a "sustained" increase over the past seven days, with the majority of cases detected in the most populous province of Gauteng, which includes Johannesburg and Pretoria.

"We are monitoring these trends to see if these increases persist," NICD's interim executive director, Adrian Puren, says in a statement. — AFP

November 22, 2021 - 7:15pm

Most Germans will be "vaccinated, cured or dead" from Covid-19 in a few months, Health Minister Jens Spahn warned Monday as he urged more citizens to get jabbed.

"Probably by the end of this winter, as is sometimes cynically said, pretty much everyone in Germany will be vaccinated, cured or dead," Spahn said, blaming "the very contagious Delta variant".

"That is why we so urgently recommend vaccination," he added.

The stark warning comes as Germany is racing to contain a record rise in coronavirus infections in recent weeks, with hospitals sounding the alarm about overflowing intensive care units.

Despite widespread access to free coronavirus vaccines, just 68% of the German population is fully vaccinated, a level experts say is too low to keep the pandemic under control. — AFP

November 20, 2021 - 10:53am

The risk of stillbirth is about twice as high for women with COVID-19 compared to those without, and grew to about quadruple during the period when the Delta variant became dominant, a large US government study says.

The analysis, carried out by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was based on more than 1.2 million deliveries between March 2020 and September 2021 from a large US hospital database.

Overall, stillbirths were highly rare, accounting for 0.65% or 8,154 deliveries. — AFP

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