COVID-19 will likely exacerbate an already fragile humanitarian situation
First case: 5 April 2020
Total cases: 2,510 (as of 26 August 2020)
Total deaths: 47
Schools: Closed (3.5 million learners affected).
Flights/Borders: Airspace opened in May for commercial flights.
Containment measures: Nationwide curfew from 7 p.m. to 6 a.m. imposed from 29 April. Fourteen-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.
South Sudan recorded its first COVID-19 case on 5 April 2020. Since then, 2,510 people with COVID-19, including 47 who have died as of 26 August. Humanitarian partners are scaling up the humanitarian assistance to nearly 30,000 internally displaced people hosted in the Protection of Civilian sites 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.
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 travellers 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.
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.
The COVID-19 Addendum to the 2020 Humanitarian Response Plan requests US$390 million and brings the overall humanitarian appeal for the year to $1.9 billion. The National COVID-19 Response Plan, which request $150 million, is included in this addendum. Humanitarian organizations aim to assist 7.4 million people by the end of the year, up from the 5.6 million planned before the outbreak.
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.