U.N. chief warns against repressive measures amid coronavirus crisis
UNTV News • April 23, 2020 • 456
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the coronavirus could give some countries an excuse to adopt repressive measures for reasons unrelated to the pandemic as he warned that the outbreak risks becoming a human rights crisis.
Guterres, who spoke via a pre-taped video released on Thursday (April 23), put out a U.N. report highlighting how human rights should guide the response and recovery to the health, social and economic crisis gripping the world. He added that while the virus does not discriminate, its impacts do.
The new coronavirus, which causes the respiratory illness COVID-19, has so far infected some 2.57 million globally and 178,574 people have died, according to a Reuters tally. The virus first emerged in the Chinese city of Wuhan late last year.
“We see the disproportionate effects on certain communities, the rise of hate speech, the targeting of vulnerable groups, and the risks of heavy-handed security responses undermining the health response,” Guterres said.
The U.N. report said migrants, refugees and internally displaced people are particularly vulnerable. It said more than 131 countries have closed their borders, with only 30 allowing exemptions for asylum-seekers.
“Against the background of rising ethno-nationalism, populism, authoritarianism and a pushback against human rights in some countries, the crisis can provide a pretext to adopt repressive measures for purposes unrelated to the pandemic,” he said. “This is unacceptable.”
The United Nations did not give any specific examples of such measures.
Guterres called on governments to be transparent, responsive and accountable and stressed that civic space and press freedom were “critical.” He said: “The best response is one that responds proportionately to immediate threats while protecting human rights and the rule of law.”
With businesses shut down and hundreds of millions of people told to stay home to avoid spreading the virus, the International Monetary Fund has predicted the world will suffer its steepest downturn since the Great Depression of the 1930s.
The U.N. report said the pandemic was creating further hardship that “if not mitigated, will raise tension and could provoke civil unrest,” adding that this could then spark a heavy-handed security response.
“In all we do, let’s never forget: The threat is the virus, not people,” Guterres said. (Reuters)
MANILA, Philippines — At least five patients in the Philippine General Hospital (PGH) who are suffering from coronavirus disease (COVID-19) die every day.
During a public briefing on Wednesday (April 21), PGH Spokesperson Dr. Jonas Del Rosario reported that for the last two weeks, at least five patients succumb to the virus per day.
There are also times when it would even reach up to seven or 10 patients a day, he said.
Rosario also reported that they already reached full bed capacity.
“Puno po ang ICU (intensive care units), that has been the case for some time – 30 beds po iyon. Sa emergency room, may 25 beds for COVID-19 at lagi rin pong puno. Mostly po severe to critical care iyong nagpupunta sa ER (The ICUs are full, that has been the case for some time – that’s 30 beds. In the emergency room, there are 25 beds for COVID-19 and it’s always full. Mostly, patients in the ER are severe to critical cases)” he said.
The PGH Spokesperson also said they are not in full support of easing quarantine classifications after April 30. He hopes that the number of patients that will be admitted to the PGH will decrease with the help of quarantine restrictions.
“Extension of the MECQ to us will probably help in further decreasing the transmission hopefully and then less people will get hospitalized,” Rosario said. AAC (with reports from Marvin Calas)
MANILA, Philippines – Senator Sherwin Gatchalian on Wednesday called on the national government to expedite the construction of quarantine centers and field hospitals, instead of using school buildings for COVID-19 patients, to ease the burden on the country’s health care system.
Gatchalian, who chairs the Senate Committee on Basic Education, Arts, and Culture, said that using schools as isolation facilities “is not sustainable and does not foster a culture of safety in the basic education system.”
“Ang mabilis na pagpapatayo ng mga field hospitals at mga quarantine centers ang isang paraan upang mabigyan natin ng agarang atensyon ang mga kababayan nating nagkakasakit,” he said in a statement.
“Imbes na masanay tayong gumamit ng mga paaralan bilang isolation facilities o evacuation centers, ang dapat nating tiyakin ay ang pagkakaroon ng sapat at angkop na mga pasilidad para sa mga nangangailan ng tulong medikal,” he added.
The senator also pointed out that before the pandemic, the prolonged use of school facilities in times of disasters, such as evacuation centers during calamities, tends to delay the resumption of classes.
Gatchalian pitched anew his proposal to build an evacuation center in every city and municipality in the country, which is stated in Senate Bill No. 747 that he filed in 2019.
Under the proposed measure, these evacuation centers will provide temporary accommodation for people who have been evacuated or displaced from their homes due to emergencies, including the outbreak of illnesses and diseases.
The Department of Education earlier said it has allowed some schools in the country to be used as quarantine facilities for suspected coronavirus cases to help decongest hospitals from COVID-19 admission. Other schools were also being used as vaccination sites.
The department also stressed that its terms and conditions should be satisfied and that compliance with quarantine guidelines should be ensured before a school can be converted into a quarantine facility.
The use of public schools as a quarantine facility or vaccination site should also be the “last option,” stressing the need to ensure the safety of personnel who report for work on-site.
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