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UNICEF warns of 'lost generation' as coronavirus harms children's education

Published November 19,2020

UNICEF on Thursday warned of a "lost generation" as the coronavirus pandemic drags on and continues to harm children's education, nutrition and health.

In a new report, the UN agency found that children and adolescents account for 11 per cent of global coronavirus cases.

"Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic there has been a persistent myth that children are barely affected by the disease. Nothing could be further from the truth," UNICEF executive director Henrietta Fore said in a press release.

She noted that disruptions to key health and social services and soaring poverty rates pose the biggest threat to young people.

"The longer the crisis persists, the deeper its impact on children's education, health, nutrition and well-being. The future of an entire generation is at risk," Fore said.

The report found a drop in health service coverage in a third of 140 countries surveyed, predominantly because of fear of infection. That includes routine vaccinations, outpatient care and maternal health services.

Globally, 265 million children are missing out on school meals, UNICEF said. An additional 6 to 7 million children under 5 - an increase of 14 per cent - will suffer from wasting or acute malnutrition this year, mostly in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.

An additional 150 million children slipped into multidimensional poverty by mid-2020, according to UNICEF.

"An estimated 2 million additional child deaths and 200,000 additional stillbirths could occur over a 12-month period with severe interruptions to services and rising malnutrition," the agency said.