Coronavirus is a family of viruses, which can cause the common cold or more severe diseases such as SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome), MERS (Middle East respiratory syndrome), and the new coronavirus disease that first appeared in late 2019 in Wuhan, China, called COVID-19. A COVID-19 pandemic has claimed the lives of more than 121,000 people and sickened more than 1.9 million people globally, with numbers still rising. In the United States, there are more than 583,000 cases, and over 23,000 people have died.
COVID-19 is a contagious disease that causes mild to severe respiratory symptoms with fever, cough, and shortness of breath. It can be transmitted through person-to-person contact, though much remains unknown about how it spreads. The new coronavirus was first identified on Dec. 31, 2019.
The World Health Organization declared the outbreak a public health emergency of international concern on Jan. 30. This declaration places countries on alert to do all they can to identify, isolate, and care for people who are infected; to prevent transmission; and to help other countries with weaker health systems. The World Health Organization later declared a pandemic, meaning it is spreading globally, on March 11.
“The WHO’s pandemic declaration underscores what we at World Vision have been saying since the beginning of the outbreak: We mustn’t forget the world’s most vulnerable,” says Edgar Sandoval . “In developing countries, we’re taking steps to ensure children and families can protect themselves from this global health threat.”
The number of countries reporting people with the respiratory disease is growing. SARF is working diligently in all its program and development areas to keep children safe from infection. “We’re working with our sponsored children and their families to make sure their families have the protective equipment that they need,” says Erica Van Deren, World Vision program manager for humanitarian and emergency affairs. “Then also [they need the] education and understanding of how they need to protect themselves from this and talk to kids about the fear and stress they may be having.”
Worldwide, SARF aims to support 22.5 million people, including 11 million vulnerable children. SARF is also responding in the U.S., aiming to reach 650,000 vulnerable people with Family Emergency Kits. Each kit provides a week’s worth of food for a family of five, hygiene and protective items, educational supplies and resources for kids, and other essentials. We’re also assisting in replenishing the personal protective equipment supplies of healthcare providers and providing cleaning supplies to teachers.