Int'l organizations, UN agencies in Geneva strengthen measures against COVID-19-Xinhua

Int'l organizations, UN agencies in Geneva strengthen measures against COVID-19

Source: Xinhua

Editor: huaxia

2020-03-13 04:28:10

GENEVA, March 12 (Xinhua) -- Various international organizations and UN agencies based in Geneva on Thursday strengthened their precautionary measures against the COVID-19 outbreak, which the World Health Organization had announced as a pandemic one day earlier.

The UN Office in Geneva (UNOG) said Thursday that in order to reduce the number of non-essential visitors, guided tours have been suspended, and cultural events organized by member states and international organizations together with UNOG have all been cancelled.

Citing UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, UNOG said the declaration of a pandemic is a call to action -- for everyone, everywhere -- and it is also a call for responsibility and solidarity.

UNOG said it has also issued a "Meeting Guidelines: COVID-19" to provide guidance to organizers of meetings during the outbreak, so as to maintain mandated activities while scaling down, postponing or cancelling other activities.

The UN Human Rights Council on Thursday decided to suspend its on-going 43rd session until further notice, saying that an "orderly suspension" of the session by the end of this week would be the best approach to follow.

In a statement issued Thursday, the Council said that until the suspension of the session, only one person per delegation will have access both to the session room and to rooms provided for informals.

Earlier on March 2, the Council had already decided that, starting from March 3, all the side event meetings of the 43rd session would be cancelled and representatives were encouraged to refrain from travelling to Geneva for the rest of the session.

In light of the situation related to COVID-19, the Conference on Disarmament (CD) announced Thursday that it has decided not to hold the next two plenary meetings scheduled for March 17 and March 24.

"The two plenaries are expected to be held later in the session. Information about the timing of the next CD plenary will be communicated in due time," it said.

According to a letter received Thursday from the World Trade Organization (WTO), the government of Kazakhstan has informed WTO that, due to the current situation, it would be appropriate for the WTO members reconsider the decision to organize the 12th Ministerial Conference in Nour-Soultan from June 8 to 11.

Earlier on March 10, WTO has decided that all meetings would be suspended until March 20 after a WTO staff member has been infected by the novel coronavirus.

"We take the health of Secretariat staff and our members very seriously, which is why we have taken this unprecedented step," explained WTO Director-General Roberto Azevedo, adding that "we are monitoring the situation very closely and will take whatever measures necessary to protect health and safety."

Also on March 10, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) has announced to reschedule two key conferences in the face of the COVID-19 disease.

Given the global COVID-19 outbreak, ITU said it will postpone the dates for the upcoming World Information Society (WSIS) Forum and the AI for Good Global Summit to September this year.

According to the latest figures, as of 4 p.m. Thursday, Switzerland has recorded 858 confirmed cases and six deaths.


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