Coronavirus has exacerbated school divides: Live updates | News

Hello and welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the coronavirus pandemic. I’m Kate Mayberry in Kuala Lumpur.

  • There are concerns the coronavirus outbreak in the US is ‘snowballing’ as states reopen and Americans reject face masks and social distancing.  

  • UNESCO says the pandemic has only exacerbated conditions that left nearly 260 million children excluded from school in 2018, urging governments to do more to help the most disadvantaged.

  • Worldwide, more than 9 million people have been confirmed to have the coronavirus. Nearly 4.5 million have recovered, while nearly 471,000 people have died, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

Here are the latest updates:

Tuesday, June 23

00:30 GMT –  Red Cross to provide 800,000 masks to Thailand migrant workers

The Red Cross says it will provide some 800,000 masks to migrant workers, village health volunteers and other front line workers to help protect people at risk from COVID-19 in Thailand.

Migrant workers are particularly at risk because many are undocumented.  

Thai Red Cross Society will provide reusable cloth face masks, alcohol gel and information materials, while migrant workers under quarantine will also receive relief kits including food and personal hygiene items.

“Migrants, especially those who are undocumented, face daily challenges which are further exacerbated by the health and socio-economic impacts of this pandemic,” said Christopher Rassi, Head of Delegation, Bangkok, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC). “Red Cross is supporting migrant workers, who are some of the most vulnerable people in our communities and it’s vital that everyone can be safe from COVID-19.”


A Red Cross worker in Thailand hands out COVID-19 information at an event for migrant workers [Thai Red Cross/Supplied] [-]

00:00 GMT – COVID-19 has exacerbated school exclusion: UNESCO

Nearly 260 million children missed out on school in 2018 and the coronavirus pandemic has only exacerbated the problem, according to UNESCO.

The agency’s 2020 Global Education Monitoring Report says poorer children, girls, the disabled and immigrants are among those at a disadvantage, and that the situation got worse with COVID-19 when more than 90 percent of the world’s schoolchildren found their learning affected by closures.

While those from better-off families had internet and wifi connections and were able to use laptops and mobile phones, millions of youngsters were left out.

“Health crises can leave many behind, in particular the poorest girls, many of whom may never return to school,” wrote Audrey Azoulay, UNESCO’s director general. 

The report found 258 million children and young people were entirely excluded from education, with poverty as the main obstacle to access. In low- and middle-income countries, adolescents from the richest 20 percent of all households were three times as likely to complete lower secondary school as were as those from the poorest homes. 

Education on hold: School closures disadvantaging Africa’s poor

It said the pandemic was an opportunity for change.

“COVID-19 has given us a real opportunity to think afresh about our education systems,” said Manos Antoninis, Director of the Global Education Monitoring Report. “But moving to a world that values and welcomes diversity won’t happen overnight. There is an obvious tension between teaching all children under the same roof and creating an environment where students learn best. But, COVID-19 has showed us that there is scope to do things differently, if we put our minds to it.”

23:30 GMT – Alarm over cases ‘snowballing’ in parts of US

An alarming surge in coronavirus cases in parts of the United States following moves to ease lockdowns is raising concern that the outbreak is spiralling out of control because of Americans’ resistance to wearing masks and keeping their distance from others.

Cases surpassed 100,000 in Florida, hospitalisations are rising dramatically in Houston, and a startling one in five of those tested in Arizona have been confirmed to have the virus.

“It is snowballing. We will most certainly see more people die as a result of this spike,” said Dr Marc Boom, CEO and president of Houston Methodist Hospital in Texas. You can read more about what’s happening in the US here.

An Emergency room doctor paints a mural outside of Zuni restaurant to honor medical workers during coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic on June 22, 2020 in San Francisco, California. Doctors and medical work

There are concerns the coronavirus outbreak could spiral out of control in parts of the US, following a surge in cases in the wake of lockdown easings [Justin Sullivan/Getty Images via AFP/]

23:00 GMT – Saudi Arabia limits Hajj attendance

Saudi Arabia will hold only a “very limited” Hajj this year because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Only people already living in the country will be allowed to take part.

“It was decided to hold the pilgrimage this year with very limited numbers … with different nationalities in the kingdom,” the official Saudi Press Agency said on Monday, citing the Hajj ministry.

More than two million Muslims take part in the annual pilgrimage to Islam’s holy city of Mecca every year. This year’s event is due to take place in late July.

Read all the updates from yesterday (June 22) here.

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