The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) says 818 million children worldwide are at risk of getting infected with COVID-19 and other infectious illnesses.
Mr Mark Hereward, UNICEF’s Associate Director, Data and Analytics Division, Planning and Monitoring, made this known in a statement on Thursday.
Hereward stated that the latest data from the World Health Organisation (WHO) and UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme (JMP), shows that two in five schools worldwide lacked basic handwashing facilities prior to the Coronavirus outbreak.
According to him, this puts 818 million children at risk of contracting the virus and other diseases.
He added that “the risk is particularly high for children in the least Developed Countries, where seven out of 10 schools lack basic handwashing facilities and half of the schools lack basic sanitation and drinking water.”
The director noted that school closures around the world had so far affected up to 1.6 billion children, presenting an unprecedented challenge to their education and wellbeing.
He said “in order to prioritise children’s learning and safety, authorities must ensure schools are safe to reopen by focusing on access to soap and water, clean drinking water and safe sanitation.
“Handwashing, using soap and water is one of the most effective ways of preventing the spread of diseases, including COVID-19.
“It is also a key condition for schools to be able to reopen and operate safely in the midst of the ongoing pandemic.
“Access to these services is essential for effective infection prevention and disease control in all settings, including schools, ” Hereward added.