Video: UN headquarters in New York near-empty over coronavirus concerns

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The headquarters of the United Nations in New York has been near-empty after officials slashed staff presence at premises starting last Monday after a Filipino diplomat became the first person at the 193-member world body known to have tested positive for the coronavirus.

According to Al Arabiya’s New York and UN Bureau Chief Talal al-Haj, the area outside the Security Council chamber was deserted while the press and media offices surrounding it were completely empty of any journalist a day after the reduction in staff came into effect.

While the daily press conferences continue, the number of attendees has decreased from four last Monday to only three a day later. One of the journalists who were on the UN premises admitted that his home internet was down and that he entered the headquarters in order to work online, according to al-Haj.

Footage aired by Al Arabiya showed the corridors of the General Secretariat, the cafeteria and the restaurant empty of any persons.

According to al-Haj, the UN headquarters in New York usually has more than 5,000 people working daily on its premises and thousands of visitors and tourists visit on any normal day before the coronavirus outbreak.

“Our aim is twofold: reduce our physical presence at United Nations Headquarters; and continue delivering on our mandates,” U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres wrote in a letter to member states on Friday according to a Reuters report.

“It is essential that we reduce social contact to a minimum and follow the clear instructions of the World Health Organization to minimize the risks of transmitting the infection,” Guterres added in the letter.

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