UN team in India helping authorities to address Covid-19: Top official

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The UN team in India is supporting authorities to address the Covid-19 pandemic, including combating misinformation, a spokesperson for UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has said.

Stéphane Dujarric, Spokesman for the Secretary-General, told reporters at the daily press briefing on Monday that the UN team in India is working to promote the Secretary-General’s ‘Verified’ campaign, which was launched last year to deliver trusted information and life-saving advice amidst the Covid-19 pandemic.

Launched in May last year, the ‘Verified’ initiative is aimed at promoting and sharing verified and science-based content and fact-based advice.

Dujarric said that the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in India continues to help with the national vaccination strategy.

“The agency is translating messages in many languages and stepping up its work with communities across 16 states,” he said, adding that “myth-busting campaigns” and others have reached more than 21 million people in both rural and urban areas and nearly 650,000 front-line workers have been trained on promoting key messages on vaccines.

The UN team is also working with community radio stations across the country to reach more than 17 million people in rural areas on how to prevent the spread of Covid-19 and also on the importance of vaccines, he said.

Last week, UNICEF said it has sent critical supplies, including 3,000 oxygen concentrators, diagnostic tests, medical kits and other equipment to India.

UNICEF is helping to procure and install 25 oxygen plants for hospitals in the northeast and in Maharashtra, as well as the installation of thermal scanners at ports of entry countrywide.

“UNICEF and partners are continuing to support the Government of India in the acceleration of its national vaccine rollout to equitably reach all population groups,” the UN agency had said in a statement.

It has also been helping the Indian government to ensure that ensuring critical services for the most vulnerable children can continue functioning, as well as to help more than 12 million children in 17 states continue learning from home.

Since the start of the pandemic, it has been working with partners in India to help stop the spread of Covid-19, sharing information with more than 660 million people on how to stay safe from the coronavirus, UNICEF said.

“UNICEF has consistently worked to counter misinformation and promote Covid-19 appropriate behaviours, including wearing masks, physical distancing, and handwashing,” it said.

The agency said it needs USD 21 million for the urgent delivery of additional testing equipment, supplies and oxygen products in India, and more than USD 50 million for lifesaving Covid-19 interventions across sectors.

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