WOSM Advisory on COVID-19
The World Health Organization (WHO) has recently declared the spread of the novel COVID-19 virus as a global emergency, with the confirmed number of cases surpassing 100,000 worldwide. In WOSM, the safety of all Scouts is our utmost priority, and we take the health, safety and well-being of young people, volunteer and staff very seriously. As we continue to monitor the outbreak and updates of this situation globally, we would also like to take this opportunity to share a list of WHO recommended good practices for National Scout Organizations (NSOs) to share with members:
- Frequently clean hands by using an alcohol-based hand sanitiser, or soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
- When coughing and sneezing, cover your mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue – throw the tissue away immediately and wash your hands.
- Maintain social distance of at least 1 metre (3 feet)/ avoid contact with anyone who has a fever and cough.
- If you have a fever, cough and experience difficulty breathing, seek medical care immediately and share any previous travel history with your health care provider. Please refer to your respective country health authorities for guidance on seeking medical help with COVID-19.
- Avoid crowded places and events whenever possible.
- Clean frequently touched surfaces and objects daily.
- If you do not feel well, opt to work from home/stay home.
- The WHO only recommends wearing a mask if you are feeling unwell, or looking after someone who is unwell. If you do decide to wear a mask, find out how to wear one the right way here.
- If you decide to travel, review up-to-date visa and travel restrictions that may have been imposed by your destination country and/or any transit airports. Continue to practice good hand and respiratory hygiene while traveling.
Suspension of WOSM Meetings, Workshops and Events
At the World and Regional levels, all non-critical meetings, workshops and events for March and April have been suspended or postponed to reduce the risk of spreading the illness. Among these events include the Africa Scout Day celebrations, 6th World Scout Interreligious Symposium, APR Scout Leaders Summit and others.
Where possible, we strongly recommend that NSOs consider virtual participation for Scout meetings or events instead of traveling or meeting in-person, or suspending meetings altogether. Please also continue to monitor the situation in your respective countries closely, and make informed decisions that prioritise the health, safety and well-being of all members.
We are aware that these are extraordinary times, and that the cancellation of events and Scout gatherings is very disappointing. However, keeping young people, volunteers and staff safe will always be our priority. We will continue to keep our Member Organizations informed of further developments.
Scouts Taking Action to Support Communities
Over the past few weeks, inspiring young Scouts have stepped forward to mobilise humanitarian efforts in their communities and lift the spirits of healthcare workers on the frontlines of the outbreak.
- In Singapore, thousands of Scouts and Guides wrote letters of encouragement to frontline health staff who are working around the clock to contain and manage the spread of the virus in the country. This simple act uplifted the spirits of many health workers, many who are putting themselves at risk as they care for those who have been infected.
- In Haiti, Scouts set up hand washing stations in an effort to raise the importance of hand hygiene in the face of the current COVID-19 situation. Scouts also encouraged their communities to set up their own hand washing stations for public use.
- In Indonesia, a rover unit learned more about infectious diseases and discussed actionable ideas to respond and raise awareness on COVID-19 in their community.
- In the United States, a local Scout group hosted a training on responding to large-scale humanitarian crises such as natural disasters and public health emergencies, with a focus on COVID-19. Close to 100 Scouts are now ready to actively raise awareness and lend support in mitigating risks with COVID-19 in their communities.
It is important to remember that the safety of young people and adult volunteers comes first while carrying out activities. Scout leaders should ensure that everyone, including the beneficiaries of their actions, are safe from harm at all times. Scouts should also refrain from engaging in direct care or transportation of sick persons without proper training or personal protective equipment.
If you have any questions regarding the COVID-19 illness, or require support from WOSM in promoting health and safety standards within your NSO, please contact Kondwani Msampha, HR Director & Deputy Global Director Corporate Services at email@example.com. To learn more about how Scouts can take action in their community to support humanitarian efforts, please contact Brunel Etienne, Manager of Humanitarian Action at firstname.lastname@example.org.