South Sudanese border residents living in fear of Ebola

Tuesday December 18 2018

South Sudanese residing near the DR Congo border are living in fear of the deadly virus being imported by refugees. FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

A health worker wearing protective gear at a facility treating Ebola cases in West Africa. South Sudanese residing near the DR Congo border are living in fear of the deadly virus being imported by refugees. FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By JOSEPH ODUHA
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South Sudanese residents of the areas bordering the DR Congo are living in fear of contracting the dreaded Ebola virus from refugees.

The local Tambura State Health minister, Mr David Simbi, confirmed that Congolese refugees were entering South Sudan without being screened for Ebola.

"People from neighbouring DR Congo are entering South Sudan without being screened for Ebola due to lack of testing kits," Mr Simbi was quoted by the local Eye Radio on Tuesday.

He said the influx risked spreading the deadly virus across the border.

A heavy price

Mr Simbi's comments came even as the national Health ministry in Juba claimed to have deployed the Ebola testing kits along all border points with DR Congo.

The Tambura Health minister said there were five crossing points in Western Equatoria that needed special attention.

He warned that South Sudan could pay a heavy price for failure to deploy the Ebola testing kits to all the entry points.

The national Health ministry recently announced that it would carry out an Ebola vaccination on healthcare and aid workers operating on borders with DR Congo.

Virus importation

The ministry said about 60 health personnel had already been trained to carry out the vaccination, adding that they were drawn from Juba, Yei, Yambio and Nimule. However, the date for the vaccination wa not confirmed.

The manager for the Expanded Programme on Immunisation (EPI) at national Health ministry, Dr Anthony Laku, urged the targeted health workforce to comply, consent and get vaccinated to protect themselves and mitigate the risk of the Ebola infection.

South Sudan is one of the three countries neighbouring DRC that were at a high risk of the Ebola virus importation, according to health experts.

The country was on high alert following the reports from UNHCR on the influx of Congolese refugees.

UNHCR warned that the influx could cause the spread of the Ebola if measures were not taken.

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