South Sudan Covid-19 cases rise to 290 as 54 more test positive

Sunday May 17 2020

Coronavirus screening in South Sudan

Passengers from an international flight are screened for their temperature at Juba International Airport in South Sudan on January 31, 2020, as part of efforts to prevent spread of the deadly coronavirus. PHOTO | ALEX MCBRIDE | AFP 

GARANG A. MALAK
By GARANG A. MALAK
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South Sudan has registered 54 new Covid-19 cases, bringing the total number of confirmed infections to 290, the country's Health ministry has said.

The country also registered four recoveries and three deaths.

Speaking to The EastAfrican on Sunday in Juba, Health ministry spokesman Dr Loi Thuoi said some of the new cases were contacts of people who had already tested positive for the coronavirus disease, others were people who sought help after experiencing symptoms, while a third group were people who were tested as they wanted to travel outside the country.

The ministry is tracing contacts of all those who tested positive, Dr Thuoi added.

He urged the public to cooperate with health authorities and adhere to measures put in place to prevent the spread of the virus.

Last Friday, President Salva Kiir dissolved the High-Level Taskforce on coronavirus pandemic and reconstituted a new one, following complaints from citizens and activists that the committee was full of politicians and makes non-scientific decisions.

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The new taskforce is led by Vice President in charge of the Service Cluster, Hussein Abdelbagi, and has a number of undersecretaries, the health minister, and a member of the doctors’ union.

Edmund Yakani, executive director of Community Empowerment for Progress Organization, said members of the new taskforce would offer better guidance as they have the technical skills required.

He also urged the team to review the decision to ease restrictions in the country.

“We are asking the taskforce to review the eased restriction that was done in the past by the previous taskforce, specifically the issue of bars,” he said, adding that it is difficult to enforce social distancing in such entertainment venues.

“We are asking them to make sure they also commit themselves to ease restrictions in a slow and professional manner,” Mr Yakani added.

South Sudan recorded its first Covid-19 case on April 5, a 29-year-old woman who had travelled from Ethiopia on February 28.

Days after the confirmation, President Salva Kiir imposed restrictions, including a ban on all public gatherings, closure of all learning institutions, and enforcement of a curfew to prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease.

Last week, some South Sudanese criticised President Kiir for easing Covid-19 restrictions, warning that the country may experience a full-blown pandemic.

As of Thursday, all interstate movements had resumed and the capital Juba has allowed resumption of domestic and international flights.

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