What is UNICEF doing to help?

A man washes his hands at a set of basins outside the accident and emergency department at Princess Margaret Hospital in Hong Kong on February 4, 2020.

UNICEF’s current response focuses on supporting the Government of China and the broader East Asia and Pacific region countries where most of the cases have so far been reported. Since 29 January, UNICEF has flown in more than 30 tons of supplies, including protective suits, masks, goggles, gloves, thermometers, sample collection kits and hand sanitizers for use by health workers, with a total value of nearly USD 1 million. Additional shipments are in the pipeline and UNICEF is pre-positioning supplies in key locations.

Working alongside the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, UNICEF helped develop online training modules for health workers across the country on the prevention and treatment of the disease. A set of frequently asked questions and health guidance for pregnant women and children were also developed and circulated.

UNICEF is also partnering with the Department of the Protection of the Rights of Youth under the Central Committee of the Communist Youth League of China to provide mental health and psychosocial support to adolescents who have been staying at home over recent weeks, with school reopening postponed due to the outbreak.

In addition to meeting children and women’s immediate needs, UNICEF is looking at the outbreak’s wider implications, focusing on the safe delivery of essential health and social services, education, child protection services, as well as psychosocial support and stigma prevention for affected children and families.

Given the unpredictable nature of the virus and the continued spread, UNICEF is also liaising with governments, World Health Organization counterparts and other partners in developing contingency plans in other regions, especially in countries with weaker health systems and limited capacity to deal with major disease outbreaks.

On 17 February, UNICEF appealed for US$42.3 million to scale up support for efforts to contain the COVID-19 virus outbreak. The preliminary funds will support UNICEF’s work to reduce the transmission of the virus including by strengthening risk communication and tackling misinformation so that children, pregnant women and their families know how to prevent COVID-19 spread and where to seek assistance.

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