New York – Children and adolescents are responsible for 1 in 9 of the reported COVID-19 infections, according to a new analysis released before World Children’s Day
In a new report today, UNICEF warned of significant and growing consequences for children as the COVID-19 pandemic winds through a second year.
Averting a Lost COVID Generation, released before World Children’s Day, is the first UNICEF report that fully sets out the serious and growing consequences for children such as the pandemic. It shows that while symptoms among infected children remain mild, infections increase and the long-term impact on the education, nutrition and well-being of an entire generation of children and young people can be life-changing.
“During the COVID-19 pandemic, there was a persistent myth that children are rarely affected by the disease. Nothing could be further from the truth,” said Henrietta Fore, executive director of UNICEF. “While children can get sick and spread the disease, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Disruptions of key services and rising poverty are the biggest threat to children. The longer the crisis continues, the deeper its impact on children. “Education, health, nutrition and well-being. The future of an entire generation is at stake.”
According to the report, children and adolescents under the age of 20 in 87 countries with age-divided data are responsible for 1 in 9 COVID-19 infections, or 11 percent of the 25.7 million infections reported by them. countries. More reliable, age-disaggregated data on infection, mortality, and testing are needed to better understand how the crisis affects the most vulnerable children and guide the response.
While children can transmit the virus to each other and older age groups, there is strong evidence that, with basic safety precautions, the net benefits of keeping schools open outweigh the cost of closing them, the report said. Schools are not the main driver of the spread of communities, and children are likely to get the virus outside the school environment.
COVID-related disruptions to critical health and social services for children pose the greatest threat to children, the report said. Using new data from UNICEF surveys in 140 countries, it is noted that:
About one-third of the countries analyzed saw a decline of at least 10 percent in health services such as routine vaccinations, outpatients for infectious diseases in children and maternal health care. Fear of infection is a prominent reason.
There is a 40 percent decrease in the coverage of nutrition services for women and children in 135 countries. As of October 2020, 265 million children worldwide have still missed school meals. More than 250 million children under 5 may miss out on the life-saving benefits of vitamin A supplements.
In September 2020, 65 countries reported a decrease in home visits by social workers, compared to the same time last year.
More worrying data from the report includes:
As of November 2020, 572 million students are affected in 30 nationwide school closures – 33 percent of enrolled students worldwide.
An estimated 2 million additional infant deaths and 200,000 additional stillbirths can occur over a period of twelve months with severe disruptions to services and increasing malnutrition.
An additional 6 to 7 million children under the age of 5 will suffer from wastage or acute malnutrition in 2020, an increase of 14 percent that will lead to more than 10,000 extra child deaths per month – mostly in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.
Worldwide, it is estimated that the number of children living in multidimensional poverty – without access to education, health, housing, nutrition, sanitation or water – has increased by 15 percent, or about 150 million children by mid-2020.
In response to this crisis, UNICEF calls on governments and partners to:
Ensure that all children learn, including by closing the digital divide.
Guarantees access to nutrition and health services and makes vaccines affordable and available to every child.
Supports and protects the mental health of children and young people and puts an end to abuse, gender-based violence and neglect in childhood.
Increase access to safe drinking water, sanitation and hygiene and address environmental degradation and climate change.
Reverse the increase in child poverty and ensure an inclusive recovery for all.
Doubles efforts to protect and support children and their families living through conflict, disaster and displacement.
“This World Children’s Day calls on our governments, partners and the private sector to listen to children and prioritize their needs,” Fore said. “As we all re-imagine the future and look forward to a post-pandemic world, children must come first.”