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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LATEST UPDATE: June 1, 2020 - 9:39pm

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

June 1, 2020 - 9:39pm

South Africa's education minister apologizes on Monday for a week-long delay in reopening schools owing to a lack of "readiness".

Thousands of grade seven and grade 12 students had been preparing to attend the first classes in the country after two and a half months of home-schooling to limit the spread of coronavirus.

The education department announced late on Sunday that it had postponed the resumption date to June 8, saying the extra week would serve to better prepare facilities and train staff.

"It became clear that the sector was at different levels of readiness," Education Minister Angelina Motshekga said at a press briefing on Monday. — AFP

June 1, 2020 - 5:05pm

The Philippines logs 552 additional COVID-19 cases (119 "fresh" cases and 433 "late" cases), pushing the country's total number of confirmed cases to 18,638.

The Department of Health also reports 70 new recoveries, raising the total number of recovered patients to 3,979.

Three additional deaths were also recorded, bringing the national death toll to 960.

June 1, 2020 - 8:00am

More than one million cases of COVID-19 have been recorded in Latin America and the Caribbean, half of them in Brazil, according to an AFP toll on Sunday based on official data.

Since the start of the novel coronavirus pandemic 1,016,828 people have been infected, with 514,849 cases recorded in Brazil, which currently has the world's fourth highest COVID-19 death toll after the United States, Britain and Italy. — AFP

June 1, 2020 - 7:58am

The novel coronavirus has killed at least 370,261 people since the outbreak first emerged in China last December, according to a tally from official sources compiled by AFP at 1900 GMT Sunday. 

At least 6,113,340 cases of coronavirus have been registered in 196 countries and territories. Of these, at least 2,520,800 are now considered recovered.

The tallies, using data collected by AFP from national authorities and information from the World Health Organization (WHO), probably reflect only a fraction of the actual number of infections. — AFP

May 31, 2020 - 2:59pm

Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa mosque compound -- the third holiest site in Islam after Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia -- reopened on Sunday after being closed for more than two months because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Dozens of worshippers in protective masks were let into the compound before the first prayers of the day, held in a cool and windy night.

Chanting "God is greatest, we will protect Al-Aqsa with our soul and blood", the group gathered in front of the large wooden doors were welcomed by mosque director Omar al-Kiswani, who thanked them for their patience.

It followed a fraught day in annexed east Jerusalem, where the compound is located.

Israeli police on Saturday shot dead a disabled Palestinian they mistakenly thought was armed, prompting furious condemnation from the Palestinians.

The religious site, which houses Al-Aqsa mosque and the Dome of the Rock, had closed its doors in March as part of measures to limit the spread of COVID-19. — AFP

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