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18 May 2020

UNICEF warns lockdown could kill more than COVID-19 in developing countries

The United Nations Emergency Fund, UNICEF, has warned that lockdown could kill more people than COVID-19, predicting there could be 1.2 million child deaths. The warning came at a time physicians all over the world also called on governments not to relent in providing the World Health Organisation, WHO, with sufficient funds, warning that withholding funds to the organisation as this time of a pandemic was neither helpful nor safe.

This warning came ahead of the 73rd World Health Assembly which begins tomorrow. UNICEF noted that “indiscriminate lockdowns were an ineffective way to control COVID-19 and could contribute to a 45 percent rise in child mortality.” It contended further the risk of children dying from malaria, pneumonia or diarrhoea in developing countries was spiralling due to the pandemic and “far outweighs any threat presented by the coronavirus.

’’ Chief of Health at UNICEF, Dr Stefan Peterson, cautioned in an interview with The Telegraph in London that the blanket lockdowns imposed in many low and middle income countries were not an effective way to control COVID-19 and could have deadly repercussions. “Indiscriminate lockdown measures do not have an optimal effect on the virus,” he told The Telegraph. “If you’re asking families to stay at home in one room in a slum, without food or water, that won’t limit virus transmission.

“I’m concerned that lockdown measures have been copied between countries for lack of knowing what to do, rarely with any contextualisation for the local situation. The objective is to slow the virus, not to lockdown people. We need to lift our eyes and look at the total picture of public health.

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