U.N. in New York cancels in-person meetings over coronavirus infections

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The United Nations Headquarters is pictured as it will be temporarily closed for tours due to the spread of coronavirus in the Manhattan borough of New York City
The United Nations Headquarters is pictured as it will be temporarily closed for tours due to the spread of coronavirus in the Manhattan borough of New York City

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The United Nations on Tuesday canceled all in-person meetings at its New York headquarters for the rest of the week after five people in Niger's U.N. mission were infected with the novel coronavirus.

After largely operating virtually since New York became a global COVID-19 hotspot in March, the 193-member world body had been holding some in-person gatherings again, with precautions such as requiring diplomats to wear masks, social distancing and restricting the number of people at meetings.

In a letter to U.N. General Assembly President Volkan Bozkir, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said that "out of an abundance of caution and following medical advice" all in-person meeting should be suspended for the rest of this week "to allow for a better understanding of the extent of the exposure and for full contact tracing."

Niger is a member of the 15-member Security Council, which last met in person on Thursday. Diplomats said people who attended Thursday's meeting were being tested and an in-person meeting on Syria planned for Tuesday was instead held virtually.

(Reporting by Michelle Nichols; Editing by Bernadette Baum and Grant McCool)