U.N. asks world leaders to fight virus-spawned discrimination

UNTV News   •   February 27, 2020   •   205

Michelle Bachelet

United Nations human rights guardian Michelle Bachelet urged the global community on Thursday (February 27) to show solidarity with people of ethnic Asian origin subject to discrimination amid an outbreak of a novel coronavirus that started in China.

“The coronavirus epidemic has set off a disturbing wave of prejudice against people of Chinese and East Asian ethnicity, and I call on member states to do their utmost to combat this and other forms of discrimination,” she said at a session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva.

Governments are ramping up measures to battle a looming global pandemic of the coronavirus as the number of infections outside China for the first time surpassed those appearing inside the country.

“I extend my deepest respect to the medical teams around the world who are tackling the coronavirus Covid-19, which constitutes a serious threat to the rights to life and to health of people everywhere,” Bachelet said. 

“To effectively combat the virus all public health measures should be carried out without discrimination of any kind with an emphasis on transparency and information to empower people to participate in protecting health,” she added. (Reuters)

(Production: Lucien Libert)

DOH asks public not to discriminate vs COVID-19 patients

Marje Pelayo   •   April 6, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Health (DOH) on Sunday (April 5) asked the public not to mistreat or discriminate against coronavirus disease (COVID-19) patients.

Such behavior would definitely have an impact on the country’s efforts in fighting the disease.

“Nalulungkot po kami kapag nakakarinig ng mga kwento ng ating mga positive cases, kasama na rin ang ating exposed healthcare workers, na nakakaranas ng diskriminasyon at stigma, [It saddens us to hear stories of positive cases including exposed healthcare workers who experienced discrimination and stigma],” DOH Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said at a briefing on Sunday.

“Gusto ko lamang pong sabihin sa lahat,  pakiusap (na) huwag mamahiya ng mga taong may COVID-19, [I ask everybody to please, do not shame patients with COVID-19],” she added.

The official said the ‘stigma’ against COVID-19 positive patients may lead to other positive patients to conceal their condition which consequently could compromise the national government’s efforts to address their condition.

The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Disease (IATF-EID) has urged the local governments to formulate measures that would penalize any act of discrimination and harassment against frontliners and COVID-19 positive patients.

IATF-EID spokesperson and Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles warned that acts of discrimination such as coercion, slander and physical injuries shall be dealt with under the law as well as dishonoring of contractual obligations like contracts of lease or employment of COVID-19 patients.

Teenage boy dies in London after testing positive for coronavirus

UNTV News   •   April 1, 2020

A 13-year-old boy in London who tested positive for coronavirus has died, a hospital said on Tuesday (March 31).

“Sadly, a 13-year old boy who tested positive for COVID-19 has passed away, and our thoughts and condolences are with the family at this time,” King’s College Hospital said in a statement.

“The death has been referred to the coroner and no further comment will be made.”

The number of deaths from coronavirus in the United Kingdom rose by 27% as the UK government said 1,789 people have died in hospitals as of 1600 GMT on Monday, an increase of 381 from Sunday, the largest rise in absolute terms yet. (Reuters)

(Production: Gerry Mey, Michael Fiorentino)

Ukraine dusts off Soviet-era ventilator designs to help fight coronavirus

UNTV News   •   March 30, 2020

Ukraine is dusting off Soviet-era ventilator designs that lay forgotten in a mothballed military factory for years in a bid to ramp up domestic production of equipment that could help in the fight against the coronavirus.

In response to an urgent appeal by hospitals to President Volodymyr Zelenskiy for ventilators, some of the country’s wealthiest men chipped in to buy machines from abroad.

But representatives of state defense conglomerate Ukroboronprom, which runs the state-run Burevisnyk plant in Kiev, are leading an initiative for Ukraine to boost domestic output based on technology developed there long ago.

Deputy Director General of Ukroboronprom, Mustafa Nayyem, told Reuters that a computer with the relevant technical information had disappeared and the engineers that designed the ventilators were retired or dead.

Eventually, officials tracked down a man who knew where printouts for the designs were kept in the factory on yellowing paper. He was working in a local supermarket.

The plant is in no fit state to restart production, so Ukroboronprom will share the technology with interested private companies and has offered to help certify a new product quickly and provide production facilities, Nayyem said.

“We will give everyone access to this documentation because we understand that the crisis is now,” Nayyem said.

Some 20 years ago around 6,000 people worked at the Burevisnyk factory, producing hardware including radar systems for submarines. It also had a sideline making ventilators once used to treat Soviet soldiers in Afghanistan.

Falling demand since the end of the Soviet Union and a lack of state funding has pushed the plant into bankruptcy.

A handful of employees remain, including its acting director and security guards. The power and heating were cut off five years ago. The plaster on the walls is cracked and old machinery lies covered in dust.

Its last big government order for ventilators came in 2008, the plant’s Acting Director Vitaly Khodzitsky told Reuters. The plant used a bank loan to produce them, but the government money did not arrive and the plant never recouped its costs.

For a population of about 40 million people, Deputy Health Minister Viktor Lyashko said there were about 1,117 ventilators ready for coronavirus patients.

Governments around the world are scrambling to procure more of the breathing devices that can blow air and oxygen into the lungs. They are crucial for the care of people with lung failure, which can be one of the complications suffered by patients with severe COVID-19, the disease coronavirus causes.

The number of coronavirus cases has reached 480 in Ukraine, with eleven deaths. The country is one of Europe’s poorest and health spending per capita is a fraction of its western peers. (Reuters)

(Production: Sergiy Karazy, Margaryta Chornokondratenko, Natalia Zinets)

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