UN chief urges efforts to tackle health effects of COVID-19 pandemic in LAC

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Staff conduct disinfection at Congonhas Airport in Sao Paulo, Brazil, June 16, 2020. (Xinhua/Rahel Patrasso)

“As COVID-19 continues to spread throughout the world, Latin America and the Caribbean have become a hotspot of the pandemic,” said United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

UNITED NATIONS, July 9 (Xinhua) — United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Thursday called for efforts to tackle the health effects of the COVID-19 pandemic in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC).

“We must do everything possible to limit the spread of the virus and tackle the health effects of the pandemic,” the secretary-general said in his video message to launch the Policy Brief on the Impact of COVID-19 on Latin America and the Caribbean.

“As COVID-19 continues to spread throughout the world, Latin America and the Caribbean have become a hotspot of the pandemic,” said the secretary-general.

“In a context of already gaping inequalities, high levels of informal labor and fragmented health services, the most vulnerable populations and individuals are once again being hit the hardest,” he said.

A medical worker takes a swab sample from a senior resident for COVID-19 test in San Miguel of Santiago, Chile, July 7, 2020. (Chilean Health Ministry/Handout via Xinhua)

“Women, who make up the majority of the workforce in economic sectors being most affected, now must also bear the brunt of additional caregiving. Older persons and persons with disabilities are at much higher risk of death from the virus,” Guterres said. “Indigenous peoples and people of African descent, as well as migrants and refugees, are also suffering disproportionately, as vulnerability multiplies.”

Talking about the policy brief, the UN chief said that it “underlines an array of urgent and longer-term steps to recover better.”

“It calls on governments to do more to reduce poverty, food insecurity and malnutrition. This could include the provision of a basic emergency income and anti-hunger grants,” he said.

“Education has been interrupted across the region. It is critical to prioritize distance learning and the continuity of child-centered services in general,” the secretary-general added.

A worker wearing a face mask sterilizes a bus to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in Havana, Cuba, June 4, 2020. (Xinhua/Zhu Wanjun)

“Greater international support is urgently needed,” said the UN chief.

Noting that he has called for a rescue and recovery package equivalent to more than 10 percent of the global economy, Guterres said that “for Latin America and the Caribbean, the international community must provide liquidity, financial assistance and debt relief.”

“We must also tackle the broader structural challenges,” said the UN chief. “Building back better requires transforming the development model of Latin America and the Caribbean.”

The UN chief expressed his full solidarity with the people of LAC as they face challenges.

“Solidarity and compassion should be their guide,” he noted.

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