Southern and Eastern Africa COVID-19 Digest

Situation Report
South Sudan — Trends

COVID-19 will likely exacerbate an already fragile humanitarian situation

  • First case: 5 April 2020

  • Total cases: 1,966 (as of 28 June 2020)

  • Total deaths: 36

  • Schools: Closed (3.5 million learners affected).

  • Flights/Borders: Airspace opened in May for commercial flights. Since the beginning of June, Ethiopian Airlines had resumed its passenger flights to South Sudan.

  • Containment measures: Nationwide curfew from 7 p.m. to 6 a.m. imposed from 29 April. 14-day quarantine mandatory for those arriving from abroad. Self-quarantine, with daily phone calls from public health officers, required for those who are suspected of having been in contact with people who contracted COVID-19.

Situation

South Sudan recorded its first COVID-19 case on 5 April 2020. Since then, nearly 2,000 people with COVID-19 have been identified by the WHO on 28 June. Humanitarian partners are scaling up the humanitarian assistance to nearly 30,000 internally displaced people hosted in the PoC in Juba, increasing the number of hand-washing facilities and distributing three months’ worth of food in advance to encourage them to observe the lockdown and reduce movements. Across the country, containment measures have been imposed since 13 March, including the temporary closure of schools and universities, religious activities, ban on gatherings, sports events, and norms for physical distancing. All international passenger flights and land crossing borders have been suspended since 24 March by the Government-led High-Level Task Force, allowing only humanitarian cargo, food and fuel trucks to enter the country. On 13 April, the Government also suspended all internal passenger flights from Juba along with all passenger transport, both private and public.

Humanitarian partners are working to make sure the pandemic does not disrupt aid operations in South Sudan. The United Nations Humanitarian Air Services (UNHAS) cargo flights continue operate and the World Food Programme (WFP), on behalf of the humanitarian system, is engaged with national authorities to enable critical programme personnel movement within the country. COVID-19 testing previously required for all humanitarian staff travelling in Juba on official missions have been removed effective 1 May. However, all travelers must observe a 14-day quarantine prior to travel and authorized health workers from the Ministry of Health must be allowed free regular access to the quarantine facility.

COVID-19 will likely exacerbate an already fragile humanitarian situation in South Sudan. The cumulative effects of years of prolonged conflict, chronic vulnerabilities and weak essential services have left 7.5 million people in need of humanitarian assistance. More than 1.6 million people are internally displaced, nearly 6 million people are severely food insecure and most of the population lack access to health services.

Response

  • The country’s High-Level Task Force on COVID-19, chaired by the first Vice President, is leading the response, with technical support from WHO, US Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Technical Working Groups (TWGs) and humanitarian partners. Training of health workers, surveillance, contact tracing, risk communication, case management and expanding the John Garang Infectious Disease Unit from 24 to 80 beds are among the main activities.

  • WHO, in support of the Ministry of Health, pre-positioned COVID-19 supplies as part of the national COVID-19 preparedness and response plan to 20 locations across the country.

  • Humanitarians are targeting more than 5 million vulnerable people with assistance during the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • Up to 12 months of nutritional supplies are being prepositioned for vulnerable families, focusing on tackling acute malnutrition, pregnant and breast-feeding women and the chronically ill. 

  • Communal hand-washing sites are being set up in high-density areas like Juba, Wau, Malakal and Bentiu.

  • Tens of thousands of educational flashcards, pamphlets, banners and posters in multiple languages are being distributed.

  • Radio Miraya, a radio station owned and operated by the UN Mission in South Sudan, is broadcasting health information to people across the country.

  • A media desk is set up at the Ministry of Health to improve the flow of information to the public and journalists are being trained in how to curb misinformation and rumours.

To learn more about the COVID-19 and its humanitarian impact in South Sudan, visit this page.

Official sources:

Ministry of Health Official Twitter and Government Official Twitter

WHO South Sudan Twitter

Other sources:

COVID-19 Educational Disruption and Response, by UNESCO

COVID-19 World Travel Restrictions, by the Emergency Division of the World Food Programme (WFP)

Global COVID-19 Airport Status, by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO)

Policy Response to COVID-19, by IMF

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