NEW YORK, 29 January 2020 – A UNICEF shipment of respiratory masks and protective suits for health workers landed in Shanghai, China, today to support China’s response to the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) outbreak.
Weighing 6 metric tons, the supplies were sent from UNICEF’s global supply hub in Copenhagen and will be dispatched to Wuhan. UNICEF will be sending more items in the coming days and weeks.
“This coronavirus is spreading at a breakneck speed and it is important to put all the necessary resources into halting it,” said UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore. “We may not know enough about the virus’s impact on children or how many may be affected – but we do know that close monitoring and prevention are key. Time is not on our side.”
Nearly 6,000 people have been infected so far, and the numbers are rising rapidly. Most cases are in China and there have been reports of infections among children.
UNICEF is in close contact with the Chinese authorities, including the Ministry of Commerce and the National Health Commission, the World Health Organization (WHO), and other UN agencies to monitor developments and needs as the situation further unfolds.
UNICEF is also working with WHO and partners for a coordinated multi-sectoral response in China and other affected countries.
Coronaviruses are transmitted through direct contact, respiratory droplets like coughing and sneezing, and touching surfaces contaminated with the virus. Symptoms include fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. In more severe cases, infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death.
To avoid the risk of transmission, people should:
- Wash their hands frequently using alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water;
- Cover their mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing;
- Avoid close contact with anyone who has a fever and cough;
- Seek medical care early if they have fever, cough and difficulty breathing, and share previous travel history with their health care provider;
- Avoid direct unprotected contact with live animals and surfaces in contact with animals.