Lions Kill Three Children Near Wildlife Reserve

The nomadic communities around the wildlife reserves in Tanzania were urged to to take precautions against wild animals, especially when they task their children with taking care of livestock. By TONY KARUMBA (AFP)

 

 

Three young children were killed by lions near Tanzania’s world-renowned Ngorongoro wildlife reserve as they went to look for lost cattle, police said on Thursday.

The youngsters aged between nine and 11 had arrived home from school on Monday and gone into a forest near the Ngorongoro Conservation Area to search for the missing animals, Arusha police chief Justine Masejo said.

“That is when the lions attacked and killed three children while injuring one,” he added.

Ngorongoro in northern Tanzania is a World Heritage Site that is home to wildlife including big cats such as lions, cheetahs and leopards.

“I would like to urge the nomadic communities around the reserved areas to take precautions against fierce animals especially when they task their children to take care of the livestock. That will help to protect the children and their families,” Masejo said.

Tanzania allows some communities such as the Maasai, who graze their livestock alongside wild animals, to live within national parks.

However, they are often in conflict with animals such as lions and elephants which can attack people, livestock and destroy crops.

Last year, Tanzania relocated 36 lions from the Serengeti National Park after attacks on humans and cattle from the surrounding communities.

TikTok Removes 7 Million Underage Users

 

 

TikTok removed more than seven million accounts of users suspected of being under age 13 in the first three months of 2021, the popular social media operator said Wednesday in a transparency report.

The Chinese-owned app which is wildly popular with young smartphone users, also said it took down nearly 62 million videos in the first quarter for violating community standards — including for “hateful” content, nudity, harassment or safety for minors.

In its first disclosure on underage users, TikTok said it uses a variety of methods, including a safety moderation team, that monitors accounts where users are suspected of being untruthful about their age.

Those age 12 or younger are directed to “TikTok for Younger Users” in the United States.

TikTok, owned by China-based ByteDance, is believed to have some one billion users worldwide including more than 100 million in the United States.

Last month, the Biden adminstration reversed orders from former president Donald Trump which would have banned TikTok or forced its sale to American investors.

The report comes with social media operators facing increased pressure to remove abusive and hateful content while remaining open to a variety of viewpoints.

TikTok’s transparency report said that in addition to the suspected underage users, accounts from nearly four million users additional were deleted for violating the app’s guidelines.

“Our TikTok team of policy, operations, safety, and security experts work together to develop equitable policies that can be consistently enforced,” the report said.

“Our policies do take into account a diverse range of feedback we gather from external experts in digital safety and human rights, and we are mindful of the local cultures in the markets we serve.”

TikTok said its automated systems detect and remove the vast majority of offending content: “We identified and removed  91.3 percent before a user reported them, 81.8 percent before they received any views, and 93.1 percent within 24 hours of being posted.”

Overall, fewer than one percent of the videos uploaded on TikTok were taken down for violations.

18 Killed, 16 Injured In Fire At China Martial Arts School

 

 

At least 18 people were killed and 16 injured when a fire broke out at a martial arts school in central China in the early hours of Friday, according to the local government.

Official state news agency Xinhua reported that all victims were boarding pupils, while local media said they were aged between seven and 16.

The fire had been extinguished and authorities were investigating the cause of the blaze, a statement from the Zhecheng county government in Henan province, said.

Four local officials including the county party secretary were fired over the incident, reported the Henan Daily, a local state-backed newspaper, on Saturday.

Two more suspects were arrested in addition to the school’s manager Chen Lin, the Henan Daily said.

There were 34 boarding students on the premises when the fire broke out, according to government staff quoted by Beijing Toutiao News.

Those hurt — four of whom had severe injuries — were rushed to a local hospital, where an unnamed doctor told local media they were “doing everything they could” to save them.

The cause of the fire was still unclear.

An official confirmed to AFP that the school was the Zhenxing Martial Arts Centre.

Local media reports described it as a “comprehensive martial arts training institution” that aimed to “strengthen the body through morality and martial arts”.

An online listing for the school advertised hour-long classes each day for a range of martial arts disciplines and said the school “recruits boarding students year-round”, but offered no further details.

Provincial party chief Lou Yangsheng told local media that the blaze was a “profound lesson”.

The school had not gone through the fire safety auditing process required for martial arts training institutions, as the building had originally been a privately built house intended for other purposes, Xinhua reported Friday.

– Cradle of kung fu –
Henan is the birthplace of traditional Chinese martial arts and is home to many kung fu academies.

Among the largest is the famous Shaolin Martial Arts School, which has hundreds of teachers and tens of thousands of students, according to its website.

Social media users started to call for better fire safety standards online as a hashtag for the fire quickly garnered over 1.5 million views.

Fatal fires are common in China, with safety regulations often flouted and patchy enforcement.

More than two dozen people were killed in two blazes in Beijing’s migrant neighbourhoods in 2017.

The first, which killed 19 people in November that year, prompted authorities to begin tearing down unsafe buildings in the capital, driving hundreds of thousands of residents out in the middle of winter.

A huge blaze that swept a 28-storey Shanghai residential block in 2010 killed 58 people.

Friday’s blaze comes at a sensitive time for China’s ruling Communist Party as it ramps up security preparations before its 100th anniversary celebrations on July 1.

Following a spate of deadly mine accidents in the past few weeks, local authorities this month suspended operations at coal mines in Henan, Jiangxi and Hubei provinces in the run-up to the anniversary.

In one week in June alone, more than 30 workers were killed in two separate gas explosions at mines in Henan and Hubei.

Dozens Of Children Seized By Armed Groups In Mozambique

 

Armed groups plaguing parts of northern Mozambique for the past three-and-a-half years abducted dozens of children during raids in 2020, British charity Save the Children said in a report Wednesday.

The charity said the “abduction of children has become a new and alarmingly regular tactic by armed groups involved in the conflict” and that the numbers involved were likely higher than its estimates, based on data collected by the US conflict tracker ACLED,

It said “at least 51 children, most of them girls” have been captured in Cabo Delgado province, where Islamist attacks have displaced some 700,000 people since the violence started in 2017.

In March Islamic-State linked militants launched a coordinated assault on Palma town, killing dozens and forcing more than 67,000 to abandon their homes.

Nearly half of those displaced are children, and the true number of child abductions could be far higher than the reported cases.

Militants locally known as Al-Shabab terrorise northern Mozambique, burning houses, beheading people and forcing some into their ranks or holding them as sex slaves.

A jihadist video distributed in August last year, filmed in either Mozambique or the Democratic Republic of Congo according to the US-based SITE Intelligence Group, showed three gun-toting children flanked by adults in front of an IS banner.

“Being abducted, witnessing abductions, experiencing attacks, being forced to flee from armed groups — these are extremely traumatising events for young children and adolescents,” the charity’s country director Chance Briggs said in the report.

Save the Children called for the immediate release of all abducted children and for the perpetrators to be held to account.

It said children were sometimes targeted for abduction in large groups, citing one attack where 21 people were abducted in a group, including six children.

“In that same incident, at least seven fishermen were beheaded,” it said.

In another attack last June, 10 girls were taken while drawing water from a well, it added.

Save the Children highlighted one recent abduction of a 14-year-old girl following the March 24 Palma attack.

She and her family had in August 2020 fled their fishing village to Palma town.

But seven months later “armed men entered Palma and forced the family to flee again. On the way to seek safety, the family were abducted by armed men. They all escaped except for their eldest daughter,” it said, citing the teenager’s father.

AFP

US Authorizes Pfizer-BioNTech Vaccine For 12-15 Year Olds

A health worker shows a vial of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine against COVID-19 at the Pascual Guerrero Olympic stadium, in Cali, Colombia, on April 26, 2021.
Luis ROBAYO / AFP

 

 

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Monday authorized the use of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for children aged 12 to 15 years old.

“This is a promising development in our fight against the virus,” said President Joe Biden.

“If you are a parent who wants to protect your child, or a teenager who is interested in getting vaccinated, today’s decision is a step closer to that goal.”

The FDA previously granted an emergency use authorization for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to individuals aged 16 and older.

“Having a vaccine authorized for a younger population is a critical step in continuing to lessen the immense public health burden caused by the Covid-19 pandemic,” said Peter Marks, director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research.

The FDA said some 1.5 million Covid-19 cases in individuals aged 11 to 17 years old have been reported to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention between March 1, 2020 and April 30, 2021.

The course of the disease is generally milder in children but they can pass it on to older, more vulnerable adults.

Pfizer and its partner BioNTech said in March that their two-dose vaccine regimen was shown to be safe and highly effective in a trial of 2,260 12 to 15 year olds.

Biden last week stressed the importance of expanding vaccinations to 12 to 15 year olds and said the authorities were “ready to move immediately” once the authorization came through.

Some 20,000 pharmacies around the country were ready to begin to vaccinate adolescents, he said, and doses will also be shipped to pediatricians.

Covid-19 vaccines from Moderna and Johnson & Johnson have also received emergency use authorizations from the FDA but only for individuals over the age of 18.

Acting FDA commissioner Janet Woodcock described Monday’s move as a “significant step in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic.”

“Today’s action allows for a younger population to be protected from Covid-19, bringing us closer to returning to a sense of normalcy and to ending the pandemic,” Woodcock said in a statement.

“Parents and guardians can rest assured that the agency undertook a rigorous and thorough review of all available data, as we have with all of our Covid-19 vaccine emergency use authorizations,” she added.

How 20 Children Died In Niger School Inferno – Witnesses

A google map of the Republic of Niger, a country in West Africa.

 

A total of 20 pre-school children – aged between three and five years – lost their lives to a horrific fire that broke out at a school in the Republic of Niger.

The incident which occurred on Tuesday in an impoverished area on the outskirts of Niamey, the country’s capital has left dozens of parents and teachers with uncontrollable tears and agony.

The victims perished when the fire tore through the classrooms made of wood and straw, witnesses said.

“The little children, innocents, were really burned alive in this fire,” the school’s director Habiba Gaya told AFP on Wednesday as she wiped away large tears with her veil.

She lamented that while older children were able to make it out of the burning huts, it was unfortunate that those aged five and below could not.

“They were little, so they weren’t able to run,” Gaya added, saying all of Niger was in total mourning.

The tragedy took place in the poor “Pays-Bas” neighbourhood that was built in a former clay quarry near Niamey airport.

Although the cause of the fire has yet to be determined, security forces have blocked off the scene as investigators searched for evidence.

 

‘Answering The Call Of Death’

Residents, some with their heads in their hands, gathered in anguish behind police tape to look over what was left of the school buildings.

From the view, only the remains of desks and corrugated metal sheets were still visible among the debris, with charred books, pencil cases, and backpacks scattered among the ashes.

“The flames were carried from classroom to classroom by the wind,” said Balaraba Ibrahim, an aunt to five-year-old Yasmina who was among those who perished in the flames.

Ibrahim who lives nearby said Yasmina had come home and then she went back to school.

“It’s almost as if she was answering the call of death,” Ibrahim said as she broke down in tears.

The mother of another victim, seated in the courtyard near other more solidly built classrooms that escaped damage, struggled to accept her loss.

“Allah wanted this to happen and there is nothing we can do about it,” she said, clutching prayer beads.

The Fire Service Commander in Niger, Sidi Mohamed, also confirmed that around 20 children were trapped in the blaze.

He noted that rescuers set off rapidly and the fire was put out, but the intensity of the fire was enormous.

Niger, which ranks as the poorest country in the world under the UN’s 189-nation Human Development Index, often resorts to putting classrooms in makeshift huts where children sometimes sit on the floor.

26.5 Million Nigerian Children Lack Access To Water, Says UNICEF

A picture of a child drinking water from the tap. UNICEF Nigeria/2020

 

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) on Monday said that nearly one-third of Nigerian children lack access to enough water.

In a statement marking World Water Day, UNICEF said more than 1.42 billion people including 450 million children are living in areas of high or extremely high water vulnerability in the world.

“The world’s water crisis is not coming – it is here, and children are its biggest victims,” said Peter Hawkins, UNICEF Representative in Nigeria.

“When wells dry up, children are the ones missing school to fetch water. When droughts diminish food supplies, children suffer from malnutrition and stunting. When floods hit, children fall ill from waterborne illnesses. And when water is not available in Nigerian communities, children cannot wash their hands to fight off diseases.”

According to UNICEF, “the figures in Nigeria are particularly worrying, with 26.5 million Nigerian children experiencing high or extremely high water vulnerability – or 29 percent of Nigerian children.”

 

Read UNICEF’s full statement below:

Abuja, 22 March 2021 – As the world commemorates World Water Day, globally, more than 1.42 billion people – including 450 million children – are living in areas of high or extremely high water vulnerability, according to new analysis released by UNICEF. This means that 1 in 5 children worldwide does not have enough water to meet their everyday needs.

The figures in Nigeria are particularly worrying, with 26.5 million Nigerian children experiencing high or extremely high water vulnerability – or 29 per cent of Nigerian children.

The analysis, part of the Water Security for All initiative, identifies areas where physical water scarcity risks overlap with poor water service levels. Communities living in these areas depend on surface water, unimproved sources of water, or water that can take more than 30 minutes to collect.

“The world’s water crisis is not coming – it is here, and children are its biggest victims,” said Peter Hawkins, UNICEF Representative in Nigeria.

“When wells dry up, children are the ones missing school to fetch water. When droughts diminish food supplies, children suffer from malnutrition and stunting. When floods hit, children fall ill from waterborne illnesses. And when water is not available in Nigerian communities, children cannot wash their hands to fight off diseases,” said Peter Hawkins

The UNICEF data show that children in more than 80 countries live in areas with high or extremely high water vulnerability. Eastern and Southern Africa has the highest proportion of children living in such areas, with more than half of children – 58 per cent – facing difficulty accessing sufficient water every day. It is followed by West and Central Africa (31 per cent), South Asia (25 per cent), and the Middle East (23 per cent). South Asia is home to the largest number of children living in areas of high or extremely high water vulnerability – more than 155 million children.

Children in 37 ‘hotspot’ countries face especially dire circumstances, in terms of absolute numbers, the proportions of children affected, and where global resources, support and urgent action must be mobilized. This list includes Afghanistan, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Haiti, Kenya, Niger, Nigeria, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Sudan, Tanzania and Yemen.

Last year, the Nigerian Government and UNICEF released a WASH NORM study which showed that while there has been some progress, thanks to efforts by the Ministry of Water Resources and its partners to strengthen the sector’s planning and monitoring  – there is still much more work to be done in the country to ensure that all Nigerians have access to adequate and quality water and hygiene services.

Sustainable and equitable access to safe drinking water remains a challenge in Nigeria, with over 86 per cent of Nigerians lacking access to a safely managed drinking water source. The problem is compounded by poor drinking water quality and lack of equity in access.

Although about 70 per cent of Nigerians are reported to have access to a basic water services, more than half of these water sources are contaminated. And although 73 per cent of the country’s population have access to a water source, only nine litres of water on average is available to a Nigerian daily.

At the current rate, the country will miss the SDG targets on people’s access to water, unless there is a strong commitment and appropriate action taken by all stakeholders.

While the impact of water scarcity can be felt by all, no one suffers more than the most vulnerable children. Children and families living in vulnerable communities face the double-edged sword of coping with high water scarcity levels while having the lowest water services, making access to sufficient water especially susceptible to climate shocks and extreme events.

“We have to act now both to address the water crisis in Nigeria to prevent it from getting worse and if we want to meet the SDGs,” said Peter Hawkins. “We can only achieve water security for every Nigerian – including the Nigerian child – through innovation, investment and collaboration, and by ensuring services are sustainable and well-managed. We must act – for the sake of our children and our planet.”

 

Three Children Killed Playing With Grenade In Pakistan

File photo of Grenade used to depict the story.

 

Three children were killed and two others injured Wednesday when a grenade they found in a field exploded in northwest Pakistan, officials said. 

The four brothers and a neighbour were playing when they found the rusty grenade near a village on the outskirts of the northwestern city of Peshawar.

“The children first played with it and later hit it with a stone causing it to explode,” Mansoor Aman, a local senior police official, told AFP.

READ ALSO: Six Killed, Nine Injured In Lagos-Ibadan Expressway Crash

Local police official Aziz ur Rehman confirmed the casualties.

Accidents involving discarded ordinance are not uncommon in Pakistan’s northwest.

Old mortar, artillery shells, and other discarded ammunitions are often smuggled into the country from Afghanistan, some dating back to the Soviet war in the 1980s.

The area was also once a hub of anti-Taliban activities, with locals forming militias to fight against the insurgents.

Last year, five people were killed when a worker at a scrap metal shop tried to recycle an old mortar shell that exploded as he tampered with it.

AFP

Ethiopian Parents Fear For Future Of Refugee Children

Ethiopian refugees who fled fighting in Tigray province are pictured at a reception centre in Sudan’s eastern Gedaref province, on November 17, 2020. (Photo by Ebrahim HAMID / AFP)

 

Seated on the ground in a camp in Sudan’s Gedaref region, Ethiopian schoolteacher Tadros Bay reads a story to four children huddled around him.

He somehow managed to rescue the book on his escape from Mai-Kadra in Ethiopia’s Tigray region where he said atrocities were carried out by government forces.

Children listen attentively to the 32-year-old teacher with whom they share the fate of thousands of refugees thrown onto the roads by war in their homeland.

“I try to help these children but we don’t have books or a place to study,” he says.

The transit camp in eastern Sudan near the border with Ethiopia has become home for 17,000 refugees, including 5,000 children, according to Sudanese officials.

Built five years ago to relocate residents whose homes were flooded by a reservoir, so-called “village number 8” has only one school for Sudanese.

In the streets, children run, play and cry, their parents fearful they will turn into a lost generation because of a war that will drag on.

Conflict has raged since November 4 when Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed announced the launch of military operations in Tigray in a dramatic escalation of a long-running feud with the region’s ruling party, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF).

According to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), 4,000 people have been crossing the border with Sudan each day since November 10.

Iessa Burhano, 29, and her husband owned a hotel in Mai-Kadra, in southwest Tigray, the scene of alleged atrocities.

Amnesty International, citing witnesses, has accused forces loyal to the TPLF of responsibility for a “massacre” which “probably” left hundreds of civilians dead in Mai-Kadra.

However, several refugees interviewed by AFP in another Gedaref camp, Um Raquba, say the abuses were committed by federal army troops.

“Soldiers of the federal army attacked our hotel, looted it as well as our other properties,” Iessa Burhano charges.

Now, her three children, aged eight, 10 and 13, who were supposed to return to school this month, are “refugees and will certainly not be able to resume their studies”, she says.

Originally from Humera, in western Tigray, Tasfai Gabro, the father of four school-age children, also had to flee his village.

“Now that we are in Sudan and although I am not worried about the immediate future, I fear for the future of my children,” says the 60-year-old truck driver.

“I think the war will last a long time. What a future for my sons!”

AFP

Two Children Rescued Days After Deadly Turkey Earthquake

Search and rescue teams look for victims at the site of a collapsed building in Izmir on November 2, 2020, after a powerful earthquake struck Turkey’s western coast and parts of Greece two days ago.  OZAN KOSE / AFP

 

Rescuers pulled two children from the rubble in a town in Turkey on Monday, delivering hope nearly three days after a major earthquake hit the Aegean, killing 93 people and ruining dozens of buildings.

Three-year-old Elif Perincek was rescued 65 hours after the 7.0-magnitude quake left a trail of destruction in western Turkey and eastern Greece on Friday, Turkey’s AFAD emergency authority said.

Local media showed a video of a little girl wrapped up in a foil blanket quickly taken to safety in the coastal town of Bayrakli — the hardest hit by the disaster — as rescue workers broke into applause.

Hours later, Turkish state television showed images of the girl, her right eye closed by a purple bruise, waving to the camera from her hospital bed, a doll resting on her chest.

Muammer Celik, a fireman who found and saved Elif, told AFP he thought the toddler was dead when he saw her lying on her back, covered by white dust.

“I asked for a body bag. I wanted to wipe the dust from her face and put out my hand towards her — and then suddenly she grabbed my thumb,” he recalled.

“We froze. We were crying with joy,” Celik said. “We forgot everything in that moment!”

A photo of Elif holding Celik’s hand went viral in Turkey. The fireman said she did not let go until she was taken to a tent for safety nearby.

Elif was the 106th person pulled out alive from collapsed buildings in Bayrakli and surrounding towns and cities in western Turkey.

Her mother and three siblings were pulled out on Saturday night, although her rescued brother later died, the TRT state broadcaster said.

 Rising toll

AFAD also reported the rescue of 14-year-old Idil Sirin in Bayrakli, 58 hours after the quake hit.

But the Sirin family’s joy was brief as the lifeless body of Idil’s sister, Ipek, was found, the Hurriyet newspaper reported.

“I can’t hear any sounds from my sister, she’s dead,” Idil told rescuers as she was being pulled out, Hurriyet said.

Turkey’s toll from the quake is continuing to rise, with AFAD reporting 91 dead.

Nearly 1,000 people were injured and more than 150 were still in hospital.

Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca tweeted that 10 of the wounded were in intensive care, including three in a critical condition.

Two teenagers were also killed on their way home from school on the Greek island of Samos, near the epicentre of the quake.

‘Can anyone hear me?’

Racing against time, rescue workers were pressing ahead with their desperate search for survivers in western Turkey more than 72 hours after disaster struck.

“Can anyone hear me,” one rescue worker cried through a megaphone down into the rubble.

“If you can, hit something or scream,” he called as a drone hovered overhead scanning the rubble.

Thousands of residents, including those with destroyed homes, spent a third night outside in tents in Bayrakli and in nearby Bornova, many fearing the risk of aftershocks.

Turkish authorities registered 1,286 repeat tremors by Monday afternoon — including 43 above magnitude four — complicating the rescuers’ works and raising the threat of further damage.

Launching an investigation into why 58 buildings were either heavily damaged or completely destroyed, Turkish police detained nine people — including contractors — in connection with the quake, state news agency Anadolu said.

AFP

Spanish Children Over Six To Wear Masks At School

Weetbe Mask Osaka face masks are pictured in the Spanish Basque city of Igorre on August 26, 2020. – Spanish entrepeneurs Marcos Fernandez Alonso, Itxaso Domingo and Inaki Mendialdua have created the Weetbe Mask Osaka face mask that is customizable and transparent to improve interpersonal communications. ANDER GILLENEA / AFP.

 

Children above the age of six in Spain will be required to wear face masks at school at all times, the government said Thursday, as it seeks to restart lessons despite a surge in coronavirus infections.

“The use of masks will be mandatory in general from the age of six, even if social distance is maintained,” Education Minister Isabel Celaa told a news conference ahead of schools’ reopening next month.

Spain’s 17 regional governments, which are responsible for health care and education, have in recent days outlined a patchwork of different measures, leading critics to charge there was a lack of coordination.

The northern region of Cantabria’s requirement for children as young as three to wear masks sparked particular controversy.

As well as mask-wearing, pupils will also have to maintain a social distance of 1.5 metres (five feet) from each other, Celaa said, except for young children who will be allowed to mix only with their classmates but not with outsiders.

Other measures include requiring children to wash their hands at least five times a day, regularly ventilating classrooms and taking pupils’ temperature.

The goal is for children return to schools instead of having online lessons as they did at the end of the last school term due to the pandemic.

“We aim for all students to be present,” Celaa said.

Spain’s schools shut in mid-March when the country imposed a strict three-month lockdown to curb the spread of the virus and have not re-opened since.

New cases are growing at one of the fastest rates in Europe and debate has raged in Spain over how to protect children from infection in schools.

Some parents say they will refuse to send their children back to class because they fear it won’t be safe.

The number of confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Spain, a nation of around 47 million people, surpassed 400,000 this week. Nearly 29,000 people have died, one of the world’s highest tolls.

Against this backdrop, local authorities have toughened measures to curb the spread of the virus. Madrid city hall announced Thursday that public swimming pools would close on September 1 and parks will be closed at night.

The Balearic Islands in the Mediterranean, which include holiday hotspots Ibiza and Mallorca, announced Wednesday that beaches would be shut at night.

With nightclubs and bars closed across Spain, many young people have taken to gathering and drinking in parks and on beaches at night.

AFP

Children Aged 12 And Over Should Wear Masks, Says WHO

An Iraqi family wearing protective masks walk at the departure hall of Baghdad international airport following its reopening on July 23, 2020, after a closure forced by the coronavirus pandemic restrictions aimed at preventing the spread of the deadly COVID-19 illness in Iraq. AHMAD AL-RUBAYE / AFP
An Iraqi family wearing protective masks walk at the departure hall of Baghdad international airport following its reopening on July 23, 2020, after a closure forced by the coronavirus pandemic restrictions aimed at preventing the spread of the deadly COVID-19 illness in Iraq. AHMAD AL-RUBAYE / AFP

 

The World Health Organization has recommended that children aged 12 and over now use masks in the same situations as adults, as the use of face coverings helps stop the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

The health agency made the recommendation in a COVID-19 guidance document it published via its website on Friday.

It said children aged five years and under should not be required to wear masks, while children aged 6-11 should only wear masks under certain conditions, including the presence of widespread transmission in the area where the child resides and the child’s ability to safely and appropriately use a mask.

However, children aged 12 and over are required to wear a mask under the same conditions as adults, “in particular when they cannot guarantee at least a 1-metre distance from others and there is widespread transmission in the area.”

The WHO has said the world should be able to rein in the coronavirus pandemic in less than two years, even as the world’s death toll hit 800,000 and the number of confirmed cases continues to rise.

“We have a disadvantage of globalisation, closeness, connectedness, but an advantage of better technology, so we hope to finish this pandemic before less than two years,” WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters on Friday.