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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
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June 19, 2021 - 2:06pm

The Netherlands announces further easing of a raft of measures to combat coronavirus, including an end to mask-wearing in most places.

Prime Minister Mark Rutte says the country was "taking a big step" towards a life without restrictions, from June 26.

"Almost everything is possible at a distance of 1.5 metres," he adds. — AFP

June 18, 2021 - 2:41pm

Lights, camera, real live audiences — Milan fashion welcomes back actual people to its shows Friday, a sign the industry is ready to start turning the page on virtual formats adopted during the pandemic.

The numbers are still modest, with only Armani, Dolce & Gabbana and Etro inviting an audience to their men's Spring/Summer 2022 collections.

"This is the dress rehearsal of the return to normalcy," Federica Trotta Mureau, editor of the Italian fashion magazine Mia Le Journal, told AFP. 

The shows represent baby steps but the effect of the live events, instead of the video presentations or short films relied on since early last year when coronavirus cut short the twice-yearly shows in Italy's business capital, would still be appreciated, Mureau said. — AFP

June 17, 2021 - 7:45pm

The novel coronavirus has killed at least 3,835,238 people since the outbreak emerged in China in December 2019, according to a tally from official sources compiled by AFP at 1000 GMT on Thursday. 

At least 176,966,040 cases of coronavirus have been registered.

The vast majority have recovered, though some have continued to experience symptoms weeks or even months later. —  AFP

June 17, 2021 - 7:42am

A repurposed arthritis drug has shown positive results in a clinical trial of patients hospitalized with COVID-19, according to a paper published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Tofacitinib, taken orally and sold under the brand name Xeljanz among others, was tested in a trial of 289 patients hospitalized with severe COVID across 15 locations in Brazil.

Half received the drug — a 10 mg pill twice a day — and standard care like glucocorticoids that tamp down an overactive immune response, while the other half received a placebo and standard care.

After 28 days, 18.1% of the group receiving the tofacitinib progressed to respiratory failure or death, compared to 29% in the placebo group.

This represented a statistically significant relative risk reduction of 63%. — AFP

June 16, 2021 - 7:52am

The US death toll from COVID-19 surpassed 600,000 on Tuesday, although officials hailed progress towards a return to normality as its world-leading vaccination program promised to turn the page on one of the worst health crises in American history.

The United States has racked up by far the largest national death toll  ahead of Brazil and India  after a heavily-criticized early response to the pandemic, but has since organized among the world's most effective immunization drives.

Progress against the coronavirus was underlined as New York announced more than 70 percent of adults had received at least one vaccine dose and the last of the state's restrictions could be lifted.

"There's still too many lives being lost," President Joe Biden said, noting that despite the daily number of dead dropping sharply, the continuing loss of life was still "a real tragedy." — AFP

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