South Sudan returns to partial lockdown as Covid-19 cases rise

Friday February 05 2021
South Sudan.

Lab technicians gather around a machine as they test samples for Covid-19 in a laboratory in Juba, South Sudan on April 6, 2020. PHOTO | FILE | NMG

By Garang Malak


The South Sudan National Taskforce on Covid-19 has reintroduced a partial lockdown amid a surge of cases across the country.

In a statement on Wednesday, Fifth Vice President Abdelbagi Akol, who also heads the taskforce, asked citizens to respect the one-month restrictions aimed at curbing the spread of the coronavirus.

“The taskforce has banned all gatherings such as sporting events, religious events, Al Juma prayers, funerals, political events, weddings, operationalisation of all primary and secondary schools, universities and all learning institutions, except [in the case of] examinations with full adherence to preventive measures,” the official said.

“Both private and public sectors are asked to make provisions to allow non-essential staff to stay at home on a paid leave or for alternative staff shifts. [There shall also be] closure of businesses which attract crowds and restaurants must adhere to preventive measures.”

The body also banned the transportation of passengers at full capacity by public service vehicles but allowed boda boda operators to carry people or cargo.


“All incoming passengers must have Covid-19 test certificates. Airports within the country must adhere to preventive measures”.

The taskforce instructed all law enforcement agencies to administer the rules timely and effectively.

The fight so far

South Sudan registered its first coronavirus case on April 5, 2020.

It imposed some restrictions last March, including the closure of borders and non-essential businesses, banning interstate travel and limiting public transport in order to curb the spread of the disease.

In May that year, however, President Salva Kiir permitted businesses including bars, restaurants, boda boda, rickshaw and others to reopen.

The government also changed the curfew time from 7pm to 6am to 10pm to 6am, a move that was criticised by various South Sudanese stakeholders who described it as premature.

“The South Sudan Doctors Union (SSDU) believes that easing restrictions will encourage transmission to areas where health professionals are not trained and where facilities are not available to quarantine positive cases,” the union said in a statement at the time.

As of Wednesday, South Sudan had 4,267 confirmed cases, including 66 deaths and 3,634 recoveries.

According to the daily updates by the Public Health Laboratory, January and February saw a surge in the number of infections.

On February 2 alone, the country registered 76 cases, the highest number this year, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).