The global COVID-19 pandemic is spreading quickly and is a global problem calling for a global response. In view of providing relevant information to the IPPC community, the IPPC Secretariat developed a thematic page with the following five key messages:
|1. Overview on General Impacts and Mitigation Strategies.|
The emergence and declaration of COVID-19 as pandemic in early 2020 evoked an unprecedented reaction from the global community that lead countries to enforce lockdowns and movement restrictions. At the IPPC level, these containment measures significantly affected its major pre-planned global events and activities at various levels, including the convening of the CPM-15 and it's ministerial segment and the promotion of the IYPH 2020, which was declared by UNGA in December 2018. To mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on the planned events, the IPPC is critically considering rescheduling its major pre-planned global events coupled with intensification of reliance of digital implementation of some global activities when feasible.
|2. Impacts on Food Security and Mitigation Strategies.|
Plants are a primary source of income for nearly half of the global population and make up 80% of the food we eat. The current COVID-19 outbreak experience highlights the need to ensure that plants are protected from the ravages of plant pests. One of the potential consequences of this global emergency is the possibility of disrupted trade and compromised access to a safe and stable supply of food. Therefore, ensuring safe supply of fresh food and protecting plants from pests is now more important than ever. While COVID-19 is affecting human health worldwide, plant pests and diseases continue to pose a threat to food production. It is particularly important at this time to remember that a threat to plant health is a threat to the health and prosperity of people, especially the most vulnerable. In this critical situation, we are all vulnerable and protecting plant health becomes vital for our own wellbeing. This is the noble goal for which the IPPC was created, as expressed by the IYPH slogan: “protecting plants, protecting life”.
|3. Impacts on Safe Trade and Mitigation Strategies.|
Viruses and diseases do not take passports when moving from one country to another. With globalization and the resulting increase in international travel and trade, plant pests and diseases of different kinds are more likely to be moved across borders with consignments and travelers and spread unintentionally at alarming rates. The current COVID-19 outbreak is showing us that the world must be extra careful with travel of people and be ready to tackle any emergency. In the area of plant health we must also facilitate the safe trade of plants, plant products and other items, such as sea containers that can allow pests to be spread. Detection or quarantine are indispensable security measures to contain an epidemic - be it a human, animal or plant health emergency. The IPPC Secretariat also suggests making use of the IPPC electronic certification (ePhyto) wherever possible. NPPOs and inspection staff may refer to the WHO and FAO official guidance.
|4. Impacts on Quarantine staff’s Health and Mitigation Strategies.|
The COVID-19 global outbreak is showing the world how adopting preventive measures is essential to secure countries from the introduction and spread of devastating human diseases and that applies to the health of humans, animals and plants. Application of science-based preventive actions, including quarantine measures to contain invasive virus threats are indispensable to protect the health of people, animals and plants alike. Quarantine staff or Inspectors of consignments at the borders may be exposed to sanitary risks that are not addressed. For health and safety concerns regarding consignments, please refer to the WHO guidelines on how to protect human health during the COVID-19 outbreak: https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/advice-for-public
|5. Communication, Partnership and Solidarity.|
Global coordination is essential to tackle COVID-19. It is time for the international community to act more decisively in a coordinated manner. The international community must take notice and develop a rapid and coordinated response. Adopting divergent measures could be even more catastrophic for countries living in an emergency. Prevention, Preparedness, Public health, Political leadership and People are the top 5 P-words the WHO DG called the world to focus on when considering this COVID-19 pandemic. The plant health community can learn a lot from this and that is why it is important for countries to follow the IPPC International Standards for Phytosanitary Measures when setting their national phytosanitary measures, thus harmonizing measures at a global level. Sharing knowledge and best practices is essential to face global crises and combat common enemies. We strongly encourage you to take technically justified measures to protect Plant Health as another warning from the current emergency.