The United Nations released $15 million from the UN’s Central Emergency Fund to help international efforts to combat the coronavirus on Sunday.
The organization released the funds to the World Health Organization (WHO) and the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) to help vulnerable countries with weak health care systems contain the spread of the highly infectious illness.
Both the WHO and UNICEF will use the money to monitor the spread of the coronavirus, look into new cases, and help keep laboratories operational.
The release of the emergency funds comes just two days after the WHO upgraded the status of the global risk of the coronavirus outbreak to “very high.”
“This grant from the UN’s Emergency Fund will help countries with fragile health systems boost their detection and response operations,” UN Humanitarian Chief Mark Lowcock said in a statement on Sunday. “It has the potential to save the lives of millions of vulnerable people.”
The coronavirus – COVID-19 – is a respiratory illness spread through human-to-human transmission, and has infected nearly 90,000 people and killed more than 3,000 worldwide. Symptoms can include fever, shortness of breath, cough, pneumonia, acute respiratory syndrome, and kidney failure.
While there is currently no vaccine for the virus, WHO officials recommend frequent hand washing and maintaining a distance of three feet from anyone who is visibly ill.
“We do not yet see evidence that the virus is spreading freely. As long as that’s the case, we still have a chance of containing it,” Lowcock said, adding, however, that action must be taken to prevent the spread of the disease and detect cases early. “We must act now to stop this virus from putting more lives at risk.”
The primary concern of the WHO and the UN is that the coronavirus will spread to countries with weak health systems. Developing nations often have weak health systems due to an overall lack of funding, resources, and proper training for health care professionals.
The fresh funds will help vulnerable countries prepare to:— Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus (@DrTedros) March 1, 2020
- detect and isolate #COVID19 cases
- protect frontline #healthworkers who are most at risk
- treat patients appropriately and with dignity.
The outcome will be lives saved. https://t.co/4VlGKHhfNd#coronavirus
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanon Ghebreyesus praised the UN’s decision to release the emergency funds, claiming that the grant will be invaluable in helping to protect vulnerable countries from coronavirus outbreak. The funding will also provide health care workers with the tools and resources to treat patients effectively.
“These funds will help support these countries get ready for detecting and isolating cases, protecting their health workers, and treating patients with dignity and appropriate care,” Ghebreyesus said in a WHO statement.