Unicef urges Philippines to ease Covid-19 restrictions for children

Bangkok, Mar 19 (efe-epa).- The United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund, or Unicef, urged the authorities in the Philippines on Friday to ease the harsh Covid-19 restrictions on minors, who are most severely affected by the strict confinement measures in Manila, currently affected by a serious upsurge in infections.

Against the uptick in cases in the metropolitan area of Manila, the government has ordered a prohibition on minors going outside for a period of two weeks, which “can be considered an infringement of children’s rights,” the Unicef said in a statement.

On Friday, the Philippines recorded 7,103 fresh infections, its highest since the start of the pandemic, bringing the total number of cases to more than 648,000.

“As the pandemic enters its second year, the impact on children and young people’s psycho-social wellbeing and mental health risks is taking a toll. Due to the restrictive containment measures adopted since the onset of the pandemic, children have lived away from members of their extended families, teachers and friends,” said Unicef.

At the start of the pandemic, the Philippines imposed one of the world’s longest and most stringent lockdowns, which was slowly and progressively eased after four months, except for minors, who were only allowed outside in emergencies.

After Christmas, following 10 months of lockdown, children were allowed out on the streets, a measure that has now been reversed again, leading to complaints among the parents.

Meanwhile, classes in educational institutions continue on virtual platforms.

“They have been learning from home, often confronting incredibly challenging circumstances. For those experiencing violence, neglect or abuse at home, lockdowns left them stranded with abusers and without the required support,” said the UN body.

Unicef stressed that public health measures against the pandemic should “always consider the preservation of the child’s wellbeing and dignity.”

According to the World Health Organization, the pandemic has disrupted critical mental health services in 93 percent of countries around the world amid an increase in cases of depression and anxiety.

Data show that even before the pandemic, children faced the highest mental health risks, given that half of mental disorders develop before the age of 15.

The majority of the 800,000 people who die by suicide every year are young people, and self-harm is the third leading cause of death among 15-19-year-olds. EFE-EPA


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