Songwe meets general service staff in coronavirus town hall

Executive Secretary Vera Songwe on Thursday held a town hall meeting with general service staff members on mitigation and precaution measures the United Nations is putting in place against the coronavirus (Covid-19) in Ethiopia as remote working arrangements kick-in to stop the spread of the killer disease.

Coronavirus has spread to 166 countries or territories, including the Ethiopia, and claimed more than 8,600 lives around the globe.

Ms. Songwe and her team, including DOA Director Carlos Haddad, and Emebet Mesfin of the Staff Union, explained the remote working arrangements and how staff can protect themselves and others from the virus.

Staff were spread across three rooms as well as those in the SROs; others joined the town hall via tele and video conference as they discussed safety and security in light of the continuing spread of COVID-19.

Ms. Songwe encouraged staff to work remotely, shift to virtual meetings, practise social distancing, pay attention to welfare of support system, cancel non-essential travel, and seek medical attention if any signs and symptoms are noticed.

“The UN will remain open to deliver as one. Victory for us is that no UN staff gets infected or gets sick, and if they do that it doesn’t spread into the community,” the Executive Secretary said.

Ms. Songwe answered questions from staff about their fear of exposure, in particular how the remote working arrangement will be applied.

She said staff should refrain from joining some Ethiopian citizens in the city who are attacking foreigners claiming they have brought the dreaded virus to the country.

“We do not want to compound the situation by vilifying a particular race or gender. If we see people ignorantly attacking foreigners, let us be the exemplary and educate them because we are the UN, that is what we do,” said Ms. Songwe.

The new coronavirus has been spreading fast around the world raising concerns among many.  The remote working arrangement will be in place for a month.