Amid Coronavirus outbreak, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has taken a decision to ask all staff working at the headquarters complex in New York to telecommute until April 12. This comes after New York state earlier confirmed 86 more cases of COVID-19, bringing the total of infections to 421, the highest number in the United States.
A total of 154 cases have been confirmed in New York City alone. The United Nations Office of the Spokesperson in a statement said that the decision to step up precautionary measures at UN Headquarters are to mitigate the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
"Following extensive consultations with senior management, including the Medical Director, the Secretary-General has taken the decision to step up precautionary measures at UN Headquarters to mitigate the spread of the COVID-19 virus," the United Nations Office of the Spokesperson said in a statement on Friday.
"All staff will be required to telecommute unless their physical presence in the workplace is needed to carry out essential services. This will be effective Monday, March 16, until Sunday, April 12," it added.
The statement further said that they will assess the necessity of maintaining the reduced number of staff on the headquarters' premises after three weeks. The UN Children's Fund also decided to close its headquarters in New York for a month after three employees there developed flu-like symptoms.mEarlier on Friday, the UN confirmed the first case of COVID-19 infection among diplomats working in New York.
US President Donald Trump on Friday declared the Coronavirus a national emergency in order to free up more money and resources.
Addressing the press conference, Trump said: “I am officially declaring a national emergency,” freeing up as much as USD 50 billion for state and local governments to respond to the outbreak. He also announced a range of executive actions to bolster energy markets, ease the financial burden for Americans with student loans and give medical professionals additional “flexibility” in treating patients during the public health crisis.
First detected in Wuhan in December 2019, COVID-19- the novel coronavirus has affected nearly 118 countries in the world. Presently, there are over 1,24,518 confirmed cases of COVID-19 which has led to the death of 4,607 people. As there is no vaccine or specific antiviral medicine to treat COVID-19, countries have been grappling with all possible mechanisms to contain its scope. So far, China, South Korea, Italy, and Iran have witnessed the most number of confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus.