UN appeals for $6.7bn to fight coronavirus in poor countries
JEDDAH,. The UN has more than tripled its appeal to help vulnerable countries combat the spread and destabilizing effects of the coronavirus pandemic, asking for $6.7 billion to help 63 states mainly in Africa and Latin America.
While the US and Europe are in the grip of the outbreak, UN aid chief Mark Lowcock warned that the virus was not expected to peak in the world’s poorest countries until some point over the next three to six months.
“In the poorest countries, we can already see economies contracting as export earnings, remittances and tourism disappear. Unless we take action now, we should be prepared for a significant rise in conflict, hunger and poverty,” he said.
“The specter of multiple famines looms,” Lowcock warned.
The new coronavirus has infected some 3.7 million people globally and more than 263,000 have died.
The UN initially appealed for $2 billion for the global humanitarian response plan at the end of March. As of May 5, the world body said it had received some $923 million.
Amid the council talks and broader growing tensions between the US and China over the pandemic, US Ambassador to the UN Kelly Craft and Chinese UN Ambassador Zhang Jun clashed on Twitter over the origins of the virus. “#Covid19 is killing thousands of people worldwide, yet the Chinese Communist Party has not come clean about what it knows about this crisis that began in #Wuhan,” Craft posted.
Jun responded: “All the facts are on the table. People are still dying in this country. Save lives. Blaming China cannot shrug off your own responsibilities.”
A report by the UK’s Office for National Statistics shows black people in the country are four times more likely to die from COVID-19 than white people and a number of other ethnic groups are also at an increased risk.
Saudi Arabia announced a new list of regulations intended to prevent the spread of COVID-19, introducing fines ranging from SR5,000 ($1,333) to SR100,000 ($26,666).
The new rules prohibit any gathering containing people from more than one family who share the same home, or one consisting of five or more people with no residential relationship.
Security units have been formed to monitor and implement these regulations, but members of the public are also urged to report any illegal gatherings using the toll-free number 999 (or 911 in the Makkah region).
The Kingdom recorded a total of 1,793 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, bringing the total number of cases recorded to 33,731. A total of 1,015 new recoveries were announced, meaning that 7,798 people have now recovered from COVID-19 in the Kingdom, while 10 new deaths were reported, raising the death toll to 219.
The fatalities were a Saudi male and nine expats from Madinah, Makkah, Alkhobar, Riyadh and Jeddah, aged between 30 and 78.
Advanced self-sanitization gates have been installed at the entrances to the Grand Mosque in Makkah.
The gates sanitize visitors with spray and are equipped with thermal cameras that can test temperatures from 6 meters, as well as a smart screen to speed-read the temperatures of multiple people.