Citing concerns over the coronavirus epidemic, the United Nations has restricted public access to its headquarters in New York.
In a statement on Tuesday, the organisation announced the closure of the secretariat to the general public and the suspension of all guided tours till further notice.
The arrangement comes into effect at 8 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time (1 a.m. Nigerian time.), according to the statement signed by UN spokesman, Stephane Dujarric.
“Out of an abundance of caution and following the decision to reduce the number of staff present in the UN Secretariat, it has been decided to close the complex to the general public and to temporarily suspend all guided tours until further notice.
“As the Secretary-General has said, the health and safety of staff is a matter of his utmost priority and concern.
“The United Nations will continue to monitor the situation closely and further measures may be taken as circumstances evolve.
“As of now, we have not been advised of any COVID-19 cases amongst UN staff in New York,” Dujarric said.
In a followup notice, the world body said only those in possession of a valid UN grounds pass or Special Event Tag (SETs) would be granted access to the Secretariat building.
It explained that any other visitor requiring access into the building for a meeting or other event would need to be signed in and escorted by a staff member or delegate.
The number of confirmed global cases and fatalities of the COVID-19 currently stands at no fewer than 110,000 and 4,460, respectively, in more than 100 countries and territories.
As of Tuesday afternoon, there were no fewer than 794 confirmed cases in the United States across 36 states and the capital, Washington, D.C.
The virus has killed no fewer than 27 patients in the country, according to a New York Times database.
The state of New York, which hosts the UN headquarters, accounts for 173 of the cases, the second largest in the country after Washington with 179 confirmed cases.