UN warns COVID-19 consequences could lead to hundreds of thousands child deaths
Children have so far largely escaped the most severe symptoms of the novel coronavirus, but the social and economic impact of the pandemic is potentially catastrophic for many of them worldwide, a United Nations report issued on Thursday revealed. There could be hundreds of thousands of additional child deaths in 2020 due to the global recession caused by COVID-19 pandemic. This estimate could in one year destroy the progress made over the last three years in reducing the infant mortality rate.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned in a video statement launching the report that the looming global recession could cause a worldwide reduction in families’ income. Children’s health could also suffer, since the polio vaccination and measles immunization campaigns have been suspended in a number of countries.
On education, the report said 368.5 million children in 143 countries who rely on school meals for daily nutrition have now been forced to look elsewhere. In addition, it is difficult for children to be in self-isolation for such a long time, which negatively affects their mental health. The report further notes that children in conflict situations, child refugees and displaced persons, as well as children with disabilities are the most vulnerable in the coronavirus crisis.
The UN report said an estimated 42 million to 66 million children could fall into extreme poverty as a result of the COVID-19 crisis this year. In addition, 188 countries have closed schools, affecting more than 1.5 billion children and youths. More than two-thirds of countries have introduced a national distance learning platform, but among low-income countries the share is only 30 percent. Experts have not estimated yet how the prolonged break from schooling will affect the children development.
“These are just some of the findings of the report we are issuing today. Its conclusion is clear: We must act now on each of these threats to our children” Guterres said.