Fred Ezeh, Abuja
United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) has warns of a possible ‘lost generation’ as COVID-19 threatens to cause irreversible harm to children’s education, nutrition and well-being.
UNICEF, in a report released yesterday, indicated that while symptoms among infected children remain mild, infections were rising significantly and warned that the longer-term impact on the education, nutrition and well-being of an entire generation of children and young people could be life-altering.
The report found out that, as at November 3 in 87 countries with age-disaggregated data, children and adolescents under 20 years of age accounted for one in nine of COVID-19 infections, or 11 per cent of the 25.7 million infections reported by these countries.
The report also confirmed that, in Nigeria, children in the same age group accounted for one in 10 infections, or 11.3 per cent of total infections.
UNICEF Representative in Nigeria, Peter Hawkins, amplified the call on all governments and partners to take urgent action that would change the narrative and secure the future generation.
“While children can transmit the virus to each other and to older age groups, there’s strong evidence that, with basic safety measures in place, the net benefits of keeping schools open outweigh the costs of closing them,” the report said.
It confirmed that schools were not the main driver of community transmission as children were more likely to get the virus outside of school settings.
The report noted that as of November 2020, 572 million students were affected across 30 country-wide school closures indicating 33 per cent of the enrolled students worldwide.
It disclosed that estimated two million additional child deaths and 200,000 additional stillbirths could occur over a 12-month period with severe interruptions to services and rising malnutrition, adding that an additional six to seven million children under the age of five would suffer from wasting or acute malnutrition in 2020, indicating a 14 per cent rise that would translate into more than 10,000 additional child deaths per month, mostly in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.