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COVID-19: UNICEF says lockdown could kill 1.2 million people in developing countries



17m Nigerian children age 15 to 17 out of school, UNICEF says

The United Nations Emergency Fund (UNICEF) has warned that about 1.2 million people may die in developing countries due to the impact of the COVID-19 lockdown in several countries of the world.

According to the UN agency, the impact of lockdown will have much more adverse effects in developing countries compared to COVID-19 itself.

UNICEF, which gave the warning just as the 73rd World Health Assembly begins on Tuesday, argued that indiscriminate lockdowns were not an effective way to control 5years spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the international agency, it could lead to a 45 percent increase in child mortality.

The agency also noted that indiscriminate lockdowns have increased the risk of children dying from malaria, pneumonia or diarrhoea in developing countries due to the pandemic, adding that the threats from these “far outweighs any threat presented by the coronavirus.’’

Dr. Stefan Peterson, the Chief of Health at UNICEF, while speaking in an interview with The Telegraph in London, contended that low and middle income countries who imposed blanket lockdown risk deadly repercussions as they were not an effective way to control COVID-19.

“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.

“One size fits no one. 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.’’

Read also: COVID-19: China reports 5 new cases, down from 8 a day earlier

Speaking further, Dr Peterson disclosed that a modelling of the likely effect of the indiscriminate lockdowns in developing countries projected that India would see both the largest number of additional deaths in children under five and maternal mortality, followed by Nigeria, Pakistan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania and Indonesia are also likely to be hit hard.

“Such a situation has some precedent – research has shown that in 2014, during the Ebola outbreak in west Africa, more people died from indirect effects than the disease itself. But the scale of the pandemic means the consequences will be far greater.

“Ever since we started counting child deaths and maternal mortality, those numbers have been going down and down and down,” said Dr Peterson.

“And actually these times are unprecedented because we’re very likely to be looking at a scenario where figures are going up”, the UNICEF official said.

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