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The journey from field to plate has been interrupted in our locked down world. The pandemic has created a huge void and shift in the dynamic supply chain sector, thus compromising the smooth flow of agricultural or farm products from many farms to distribution centers and grocery stores.

Why it matters: With some crops rotting in fields and others subject to export bans, the coronavirus crisis has caused shortages in richer countries and hunger in poorer ones. In Africa, the effect is well documented by the lack of basic foodstuffs in market centers. Produces are getting rotten at their source due to lack of distribution or available marketing means.

In Europe, and also North America, the harvest depends on migration. This migration is greatly impacted by the pandemic – with closure of borders and in some cases “ lockdown” is in effect in many places. There has been a call for avoidance of large public gatherings which could facilitate easy and increase in the transmission of the Covid-19 virus.

The end result of less migration is that -harder borders are now limiting movement, and workers are reluctant to travel due to fears of infection or quarantine.

Officials across Western Europe have declared farmhands critical workers. They have also called on newly unemployed people to take to the fields – as in the case of the French agriculture minister called for a “shadow army” of waiters, hairdressers and hotel staff.

It is not so simple. “Dutch people are used to working Monday to Friday, nine to five. But the farm produce keeps growing seven days a week,” one farmer mentioned to TAG Media in a telephone conversation..

In a country like India, the food supply depends on tens of millions of people working in farms, transporting food, and selling it in wholesale markets and at small stands. That has been upended with the pandemic.

When the various national lockdowns snapped into place, gaps appeared all along that chain.

“All the eateries on the highways are closed. I have nothing to eat,” a truck driver attempting to deliver tomatoes to New Delhi said. “Everyone says we should keep delivering essential supplies. But the supply link can continue only if we survive.”

Fearing a prolonged crisis, some countries have halted exports of key foodstuffs.

That could have serious downstream effects for poor countries that import most of their food, TAG Media notes, though other big exporters plan to keep trade flowing.

The bottom line: “There is enough food, but food and other essential commodities must keep moving,” John Crisci, supply chain director at the UN World Food Program tells TAG Media. “We cannot let this health crisis turn into a food crisis.”

Employers and Workers

COVID-19 spread is emotionally challenging for many people, changing day-to-day life in unprecedented ways. All sections of society – including employers and employees – should play a role to protect themselves and each other and help prevent further spread of the disease. WHO is providing advice and updated information on COVID-19, and on how employers can protect their employees, what measures they should take in the workplace and other related factors.


Getting your workplace ready for COVID-19

WHO and public health authorities around the world are taking action to contain the COVID-19 outbreak. However, long term success cannot be taken for granted. All sections of our society – including businesses and employers – must play a role if we are to stop the spread of this disease.


A guide to preventing and addressing social stigma associated with COVID-19

Social stigma in the context of health is the negative association between a person or group of people who share certain characteristics and a specific disease. In an outbreak, this may mean people are labelled, stereotyped, discriminated against, treated separately, and/or experience loss of status because of a perceived link with a disease. 

The current COVID-19 outbreak has provoked social stigma and discriminatory behaviours against people of certain ethnic backgrounds as well as anyone perceived to have been in contact with the virus.

Faith Based Organizations and Faith Leaders

Faith-based organizations (FBOs) and leaders can play a major role in saving lives and reducing illness related to COVID-19. They are a primary source of support and comfort for their members.  Often trusted more than governments or health-agencies, faith leaders can share health information to protect their communities that will be more likely to be accepted than from other sources. 

By sharing simple steps to prevent COVID-19 faith organizations can promote helpful information, reduce fear and stigma, and provide reassurance to people in their communities.  Because faith leaders are integrated into their communities through service and compassionate networks, they are often able to reach the most vulnerable among us with assistance and health information. In short, they are a critical link in the safety net for vulnerable people in their communities. 


FBOs are advised to conduct faith activities remotely, rather than in-person, using available technology to maintain community and continue worship.

Recommendations for faith-based organizations (FBOs) to ensure safe gatherings (where permitted)

Follow local, subnational, and national guidance regarding whether large gatherings, such as services, weddings and funerals are permitted based on the spread of COVID-19.

If permitted to proceed with safe gatherings, FBOs should:

  • Gather with a few people, rather than crowded sessions.
  • Educate their members/communities on key protection measures against COVID-19.
  • Encourage frequent healthy hand and respiratory hygiene among participants at all times.
  • Ensure safe distancing at all times – at least 1 meter (3 feet) of distance between community members, including seating or standing of participants in faith services and those entering, attending and departing from worship spaces.
  • Prevent touching between people attending faith services and the touching of devotional and communal objects.
  • Frequently clean worship spaces, pilgrimage sites, and other buildings with disinfectant.
  • Conduct safe ceremonies including safe burial practices.

FBOs are also advised to conduct faith activities remotely, rather than in-person, using available technology to maintain community and continue worship.

FBOs should strengthen their communities’ mental health and resilience by keeping people connected and identifying safe ways that members can help others

Large event organizers

Mass gatherings and large events have the potential for serious public health consequences if they are not planned and managed carefully. There is ample evidence that mass gatherings can amplify the spread of infectious diseases, with the transmission of respiratory infections, including influenza, has been frequently associated with mass gatherings. During the current COVID-19 pandemic, with widespread human-to-human transmission occurring in multiple countries, the cancellation or postponement of large events and mass gatherings is a means to help control disease spread between people. WHO is providing advice to countries on recommendations for large event organizers and the measures they should take to protect the health and wellbeing of attendees and the wider population.