Ebola preparedness and response activities heighten as a case is confirmed near the South Sudan border
On 3 July, the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) was confirmed in Ariwara in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), just 70 kilometres away from the Kaya border town in South Sudan’s Yei area.
There are no confirmed cases in South Sudan, but the risk of EVD spreading to the country remains high due to its proximity to the DRC and the high number of people crossing the border between the two countries. Since the outbreak was confirmed in DRC in August 2018, more than 50 alerts have been reported in South Sudan. They have all tested negative for EVD.
“I would like to reiterate and assure the South Sudanese people and residents that there is no Ebola virus in South Sudan and that you are safe going about your business as usual, or travel into or out of the country,” said Dr. Makur Matur, the Under-Secretary in the Ministry of Health. “There is no reason to panic. However, vigilance should be maintained to prevent Ebola importation,” he added.
Following the confirmation of the case in Ariwara, a Government-led joint team from Juba travelled to Yei and Kaya to strengthen coordination and surveillance efforts in the high-risk areas of Yei and its border regions. These include the Kaya and Nimule border posts, along the busy trading routes between Aliwara in the DRC and Arua Town, a major trading hub in Uganda's West Nile Region.
Several preparedness activities have been implemented across South Sudan since the EVD outbreak was confirmed in the DRC. More than 30 screening sites at border points of entry have been established and more than 2.5 million people have been screened as of 8 July. Four isolation units have been established. Some 2,793 frontline and health workers have been vaccinated, and 112 health facilities supported with infection prevention and control (IPC), and water, sanitation and hygiene supplies. In high risk locations, some 10,500 Personal Protective Equipment have been pre-positioned. Training has been provided to 29 Rapid Response Teams, and 300 frontline and health workers have been trained on basic IPC measures. About 1,200 key community influencers have been engaged, and six safe and dignified burial teams trained.
The Government has promised to provide unhindered access to all locations where preparedness activities are taking place, and will continue to work with humanitarian organizations to ensure preparedness efforts are fully implemented.
South Sudan suffered an Ebola outbreak in 2004 when the World Health Organization reported 20 cases, including five deaths in Yambio, bordering the DRC.