Find out How Coronavirus Pandemic Has Disrupted Global Food Supplies

Explainer: How Coronavirus Crisis Is Affecting Food Supply

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People wait in line to buy food amid concerns about the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in downtown Havana, Cuba. VOA

The coronavirus pandemic has disrupted global food supplies and is causing labor shortages in agriculture worldwide. This is the latest health news.

Are there food shortages?

Panic buying by shoppers cleared supermarket shelves of staples such as pasta and flour as populations worldwide prepared for lockdowns.

Meat and dairy producers as well as fruit and vegetable farmers struggled to shift supplies from restaurants to grocery stores, creating the perception of shortages for consumers.

Retailers and authorities say there are no underlying shortages and supplies of most products have been or will be replenished. Bakery and pasta firms in Europe and North America have increased production.

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Food firms say panic purchasing is subsiding as households have stocked up and are adjusting to lockdown routines.

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Agricultural workers clean carrot crops of weeds amid an outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) at a farm near Arvin, California, U.S. VOA

The logistics to get food from the field to the plate, however, are being increasingly affected and point to longer-term problems.

In the short term, lack of air freight and trucker shortages are disrupting deliveries of fresh food.

In the long term, lack of labor is affecting planting and harvesting and could cause shortages and rising prices for staple crops in a throwback to the food crises that shook developing nations a decade ago.

What’s disrupting the food supply?

With many planes grounded and shipping containers hard to find after the initial coronavirus crisis in China, shipments of vegetables from Africa to Europe or fruit from South America to the United States are being disrupted.

A labor shortage could also cause crops to rot in the fields.

As spring starts in Europe, farms are rushing to find enough workers to pick strawberries and asparagus, after border closures prevented the usual flow of foreign laborers. France has called on its own citizens to help offset an estimated shortfall of 200,000 workers.

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More wide-scale crop losses are looming in India, where a lockdown has sent masses of workers home, leaving farms and markets short of hands as staple crops like wheat near harvest.

Is food going to cost more?

Wheat futures surged in March to two-month highs, partly because of the spike in demand for bakery and pasta goods, while corn (maize) sank to a 3½-year low as its extensive use in biofuel exposed it to an oil price collapse.

Benchmark Thai white rice prices have already hit their highest level in eight years.

Swings in commodity markets are not necessarily passed on in prices of grocery goods, as food firms typically buy raw materials in advance. A sustained rise in prices will, however, eventually be passed on to consumers.

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A farmer feeds iceberg lettuce to his buffalo during a 21-day nationwide lockdown to slow the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), at Bhuinj village in Satara district in the western state of Maharashtra, India. VOA

Some poorer countries subsidize food to keep prices stable.

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The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization has warned that a rush to buy by countries that rely on imports of staple foods could fuel global food inflation, despite ample reserves of staple crops.

Fresh produce such as fruit or fish or unprocessed grains such as rice reflect more immediately changes in supply and demand.

Will there be enough food if the crisis lasts?

Analysts say global supplies of the most widely consumed food crops are adequate. Wheat production is projected to be at record levels in the year ahead.

Also Read- Every Hospital in US May Treat COVID-19 Patients: Health Human Service Agency

However, the concentration of exportable supply of some food commodities in a small number of countries and export restrictions by big suppliers concerned about having enough supply at home can make world supply more fragile than headline figures suggest.

Another source of tension in global food supply could be China. There are signs the country is scooping up foreign agricultural supplies as it emerges from its coronavirus shutdown and rebuilds its massive pork industry after a devastating pig disease epidemic. (VOA)

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Social Media: A Boon Amid Lockdown

Social media has proved itself a boon, be it dealing with a crisis or emergency and sometimes even saving a life

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Social media has proved its worth in these times. Pixabay

BY PUJA GUPTA

There have been several incidents when social media has proved itself a boon; be it dealing with a crisis or emergency and sometimes even saving a life. There are various groups and communities formed on different platforms that work as a support system of communities.

‘My Pincode’ is one such group on Facebook that was launched by the NGO Social Media Matters in April when the entire country was confined in their houses. It is about local groups on Facebook to virtually connect, communicate, collaborate and create a support system for each other in their respective pincode areas. These groups bring together users, community leaders, subject matter experts, resource points and organizations at a very hyper-local level to provide immediate support, relief, and share critical information.

Blood donation, ration supply, repair work, daily essential information, government advisories are the highlights of My Pincode as these demands top the charts across posts made by users. Partners like Sarvahitey, Akshay Patra Foundation, Blood Bank were fundamental in their roles to look into all the requests and take immediate action.

Shantanu Garg, who lives in West Delhi, posted on the group requesting for a blood donor on behalf of a friend. Within a few hours, moderators of the group who tagged all volunteers and other admins and started reaching out to other blood donor agencies were able to arrange the required amount of blood. There have also been other instances of such donor requests. Sajal Bhateja’s request for urgent requirement of blood on South Delhi Group was also addressed in two hours.

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There are various groups and communities formed on different platforms that work as a support system of communities. Pixabay

Other topics that are being discussed on the groups are:

Which is the nearest clinic I can visit?

Where can I get emergency help?

What does the situation look like right now on the roads?

What are the queues like at the shops?

How much longer will supplies last?

Are courier services working in the area?

Which are the nearest Government and Private Testing Centres?

Can I visit the police stations?

Are postal services working in the area?

How do I obtain a curfew pass?

What is the situation at the hospitals?

Are there any blood donor requests?

In an attempt to bring together communities from 170 hotspots of India across 17 states (as identified by the Central Government of India in April 15, 2020) and crowdsource help, open groups have been formed and are being managed by moderators and group admins, trained by the NGO. It will be further extended to 32 states and union territories.

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Social media groups bring together users, community leaders, subject matter experts, resource points, and organizations at a very hyper-local level to provide immediate support. Pixabay

Each state has a moderator and several admins who have been moderating the discussions and letting users connect with each other for essential and verified information as to keep fake profiles/information away.

Also Read: Beat Summer Heat With these Coolers

Every day the lead moderators sift through all the groups to look for any inappropriate content that is posted/approved/queried. As soon as users post on the group, the network of admins gets activated and they look into the prime information or request made by the user. Once that is identified, the request is verified and then the network gets activated to resolve the request. (IANS)

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Cybercrime on Rise During Pandemic, Warns UN

There has been a 600 percent increase in malicious emails during the ongoing pandemic

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A Toyota Hybrid during a test for hackers at the Cybersecurity Conference in Lille, northern France, Jan. 29, 2020. VOA

The U.N. disarmament chief said the COVID-19 pandemic is moving the world toward increased technological innovation and online collaboration but warned that “cybercrime is also on the rise, with a 600 percent increase in malicious emails during the current crisis.”, as suggested by Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) news.

Izumi Nakamitsu told an informal meeting of the U.N. Security Council on Friday that “there have also been worrying reports of attacks against health care organizations and medical research facilities worldwide.”

She said growing digital dependency has increased the vulnerability to cyberattacks, and “it is estimated that one such attack takes place every 39 seconds.”

According to the International Telecommunication Union, “nearly 90 countries are still only at the early stages of making commitments to cybersecurity,” Nakamitsu said.

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Nearly 90 countries are still only at the early stages of making commitments to cybersecurity. Pixabay

The high representative for disarmament affairs said the threat from misusing information and communications technology “is urgent.” But she said there is also good news, pointing to some global progress at the United Nations to address the threats as a result of the development of norms for the use of such technology.

Also Read: New York Times Devotes Entire Front Page to COVID-19 Victims

Estonian Prime Minister Juri Ratas, whose country holds the Security Council presidency and organized Friday’s meeting on cyber stability and advancing responsible government behavior in cyberspace, said “the COVID-19 crisis has put extra pressure on our critical services in terms of cybersecurity.”

He said the need for “a secure and functioning cyberspace” is therefore more pressing than ever, and he condemned cyberattacks targeting hospitals, medical research facilities and other infrastructure, especially during the pandemic.

“Those attacks are unacceptable,” Ratas said. “It will be important to hold the offenders responsible for their behavior.” VOA

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Nurses: The Frontline Fighters Against The Coronavirus Fight

Nurses are the heroes on the frontline during the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.

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Nurses play a crucial role in health promotion, disease prevention, treatment, and care. Pixabay

BY LT. LALITA THAMBI

Nurses are like the axel of a wheel to keep it in place. Take away the axel and everything falls apart. Nurses play a crucial role in health promotion, disease prevention, treatment, and care, and are the heroes on the frontline during the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.

For the past 18 years, the public has ranked Nurses as the No.1 profession when it comes to honesty and ethics in Gallup’s annual poll, so nurses have held the public’s respect for almost two decades. But this year, Nurses have gone above and beyond what the population worldwide imagines they do.

Throughout the past few days and weeks, I have witnessed remarkable levels of nursing care unfold, incredible displays of professional unity, and an amazing sense of commitment and dedication from all those who are fighting the coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic from the frontline.

Nurses manning the frontline in the war against corona virus are giving their all to take care of COVID-19 patients, despite the physical, mental, and emotional toll. Never have we experienced a global health crisis of this magnitude. During these uncharted and uncertain times, their hard work shines as a beacon of hope. Many nurses across the globe have been working day and night to protect us from the deadly virus even at the cost of their own health.

As a bedside ICU nurse, when you add personal protective equipment (PPE), your whole routine changes. It is hot. It is hard to talk. Your glasses fog up when you have a mask on. You are motioning to others outside the room in a kind of horrible game of charades (to get) what you need. You must cluster your care. You worry about every step you take and everything you touch inside and outside the room, and you wash your hands they are raw. You face insomnia and stress due to extended shifts. You get less time for family or you are completely out of touch for long. Yet, Nurses have consistently cared for frightened and severely ill patients.

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Nurses are like the axel of a wheel to keep it in place. Pixabay

Each day they go into work, they go in with the intent of giving patients the best care they can in order for them to recover from the virus (and other illness and diseases). When patients go on discharge, the brightest hidden smile behind the mask but spark in eyes reveals the happiness a nurses enlighten her heart with. Even when patients die despite nurses’ best efforts, they must process a tsunami of emotions, including sadness and grief.

While the situation continues to change and evolve every day, I would recommend the following to be taken care by all our nurse leaders and nursing organisations through the COVID 19 pandemic.

Show strength in leadership: Now more than ever Nurse leaders need to be present and collaborate and work together as a team. Teamwork is the key. The decision-making cycle is rapid-from resource preparation and planning to necessary improvements, process changes and more. Executive nurse leaders are present on all system wide executive phone briefings and incident command briefings, completed with action items and deliverables. Building an infection control team along with nursing leaders is said to be an effective system in raising infection control profile and changing practice in clinical areas, especially during such health crisis.

Communicate timely and accurate information to nursing caregivers: Communicating in real time and with transparency is the safest way to manage the situation. With new challenges emerging by the minute, it is especially important that nursing caregivers are made aware of the steps and actions being taken by their leadership team to remedy issues and maintain safety for themselves and their patients. At Fortis Memorial Research Institute all our COVID-19 messaging is appropriately aligned with our four care priorities: care for patients, care for caregivers, care for organisation and care for the community.

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Nurses have ensured mass health over their comfort in these tough times. Pixabay

Ensure Nursing caregivers safety: In times like these, nurse leaders should be actively partnering with leaders from other departments for multidisciplinary approach towards better outcome, as well as communication and coordination with state and local officials. At Fortis Memorial Research Institute, we are continually updating our PPE guidelines. Clearly and precisely convey intended caregiver safety behaviors: With a goal to limit exposure to COVID-19 appropriate caregiver safety behaviours should be reviewed daily which includes social distancing, proper sneezing, and coughing etiquette etc.

Another important recommendation to nurse leaders is to actively use predictive modeling to prepare for future challenges so you and your teams can continue to provide patients with the safe, high-quality care they deserve. Now is the time to take action-Do not wait.

Our leadership teams are communicating round the clock and came up as a strong team to fight against COVID-19. It began with meticulous planning to ensure the safety of the nurses and medical teams including covid and non-covid areas. Many nurses opted to work voluntarily in these wings. Skill mix was kept in mind. Preparedness is the key and healthcare needs to transform itself to tackle extreme situations like these by bringing about infrastructural and process changes, like pre-holding areas, specialized isolation units, negative pressure areas, Creating Green corridor as safety measure, availability and efficient utilization of manpower and PPE, frequent hand washing, regularly disinfecting surfaces, push buttons in lifts, door handles and knobs, frequent mock drills, patient flow management drills etc. At FMRI we are also encouraging telemedicine or virtual visits when possible.

Up-to-date and frequent communication to nursing caregivers by nurse leaders brings caregivers together, encourages confidence, helps clarify any confusion, ensures high quality, safe care continues and shows ongoing support and appreciation.

In the inpatient setting, another strategy we have implemented is care bundling, which is intended to limit the number of times nurses, nursing assistants, care managers and other caregivers enter a patient’s room. Multiple tasks are being completed with one caregiver visit to the room. Care Managers also give calls to patients from outside patient’s rooms, developing more of a telephonic relationship with patients, they review discharge instructions via phone, email regulatory paperwork to the patient and more. With this more streamlined approach to care, FMRI is also seeing added efficiencies to care delivery and discharge processes, as well as reductions in patient length of stay.

Today we are more grateful than ever to all our nurses as they work, round the clock, putting themselves at risk, to fight the ravages of this pandemic. With that in mind this Nurses Week, I am not just going to say “Happy Nurses Week” to my nurses Instead I am joining hands with our FMRI Team to echo that.

* You are Strong

* You are amazing

* You are indispensable

* You are role models

* A Big Thank You!

Also Read: Eid Celebrations Amid Coronavirus are Different

Look ahead to continue providing safe, high quality patient care with our team of great frontline warriors. (IANS)