UNGA cancels in-person meeting after COVID outbreak at mission

The United Nations General Assembly is canceling in-person meetings after five members of a country's mission tested positive for the COVID-19 virus, according to the president's spokesperson

Arul Louis Oct 27, 2020
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The United Nations General Assembly is canceling in-person meetings after five members of a country's mission tested positive for the COVID-19 virus, according to the president's spokesperson.  The name of the country that was affected was not disclosed. 

The meetings were being canceled on the advice of the UN's Medical Unit pending contact tracing, Brendan Varma, the spokesperson for Assembly President Volkan Bozkir said Monday night.

He said the decision was taken in consultation with the chairs of the main committees “in light of the need to safeguard public health.”

After a near-total shutdown of in-person meetings since March, the General Assembly resumed them last month with strict health guidelines that permitted only one delegate per country in the Assembly chamber with social distancing.

The annual high-level meeting of the General Assembly at which heads of government and state participate was held virtually with pre-recorded speeches last month, the first time in-person attendance at the meeting with abandoned in the UN's 75-year history.

The secretariat, which went into near-total lockdown when the pandemic struck New York, has slowly been allowing staff back in, reaching the level of Phase Two which permits up to 40 per cent of the staff into the 39-storey building.

New York City has seen a resurgence of coronavirus in some pockets leading to the state bringing back some of the restrictions that had been relaxed in those localities.

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