Coronavirus disease (COVID-19)

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What you need to know about the virus to protect you and your family

The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic has upended the lives of children and their families as health systems buckle, borders close, and schools and businesses shutter.  

As COVID-19 has spread, so has misinformation – fueling discrimination and stigma. UNICEF is working with health experts to promote facts over fear, and bringing trustworthy guidance to parents, caregivers and educators. We’re on the ground in more than 190 countries, partnering with front-line responders to keep children healthy and learning, protected from sickness and violence, no matter who they are or where they live.

In a statement on the new findings, UN Secretary-General António Guterres called for urgent action to support the world’s children amid the universal crisis.

“Thankfully, children have so far been largely spared from the most severe symptoms of the disease. But their lives are being totally upended”, he said.

“I appeal to families everywhere, and leaders at all levels: protect our children.”

The report finds that the socio-economic impact of the pandemic, together with measures to mitigate the spread of the new coronavirus, could potentially be catastrophic for millions of children worldwide.

It details how the crisis is putting young lives at risk in key areas that include education, food, safety and health.

Education on lockdown

Practically all students worldwide are now out of school because of the pandemic.

Nearly 190 countries have imposed school closures, affecting 1.5 billion children and young people.

The report stated that the losses in learning today, and in their future development, are hard to fathom.

“Some schools are offering distance learning, but this is not available to all”, the Secretary-General said, adding that children in countries with slow and expensive Internet services are severely disadvantaged.

Millions missing out on school meals

Child nutrition is another vital concern, according to the report.

The UN chief recalled that even before the pandemic, childhood malnutrition and stunting were at unacceptable levels.

With classrooms shuttered, the nearly 310 million children worldwide who rely on school meals are missing out on this daily dose of nutrition.

Meanwhile, hastily implemented lockdown measures risk disrupting food supply chains and local markets, posing a potentially grave threat to food access.

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