COVID-19 on the rise in Khartoum, Aj Jazirah and River Nile
There is a significant increase in the incidence of COVID-19 in Khartoum, Aj Jazirah and River Nile states based on available data received by the World Health Organization (WHO) since 25 October. WHO received reports that public isolation centers in Khartoum, River Nile and Aj Jazirah have bed occupancy rates of above 90 per cent in the past few weeks. There are reported shortages of oxygen, essential medicines, trained staff and lack of funds to cover running and operational costs. Additional capacities to provide care for moderate and severe patients are limited and need to be scaled up in these states to prevent further transmission.
Health partners support COVID-19 activities in Blue Nile, Khartoum, Red Sea, and South Darfur states, and additional support by health partners is being requested by health authorities in the most affected states.
WHO provided over the last two weeks 340 oxygen cylinders to prevent stock outs during the period of civil unrest, 15 ambulances to scale up the referral system, personal protection equipment (PPEs) and other medical supplies. A team of surveillance, emergency and Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) staff will provide support at isolation centers in River Nile State.
Disease surveillance challenges
The disease surveillance systems are severely affected by a lack of access to communication networks, internet connections and the absence of key civil staff due to the civil disobedience. There are challenges to provide reliable updates on the epidemiological situation of diseases with outbreak potential.
Suspected dengue cases reportedly increased significantly in six states, including Kassala, North Darfur, North Kordofan, River Nile, West Kordofan and West Darfur. As of 21 November, 229 suspected cases, including five deaths, were reported from these states. Outbreak response measures are affected by the ongoing crisis and may lead to a further increase of cases in the near future.
Since 25 October, more than 500 people were injured following demonstrations and protests in Khartoum, with 41 deaths reported, according to the Central Doctors’ Committee. Not all injured are seeking hospital care and the figures might be underreported. Most of the casualties are in Khartoum where the biggest protests took place. WHO delivered dressings and trauma supplies for 900 patients, and assessed the emergency capacities in 15 hospitals in Khartoum. WHO is preparing trainings in case management, basic life support, mass casualty and COVID-19 case management in coordination with other health partners and in response to the high staff turnover in public health facilities, which is leading to a lack of trained staff. Trauma supplies for up to 3,000 trauma patients are ready to be delivered by air from Dubai and are awaiting the finalisation of importation procedures.
The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has also delivered emergency medical assistance to hospitals in Khartoum to support medical needs. The delivery included two emergency health kits to “Ibrahim Malik” and “Al-Mualim” hospitals in Khartoum. The kits cover basic medical needs for up to 40,000 patients over three months.
Moreover, UNICEF delivered advanced emergency health kits known as supplementary kits to nine hospitals in Khartoum including Al-Arabaeen, Ibrahim Malik, Al-Tamayouz, Royal Care and Sharg Al-Neel hospitals.
For more information on UNICEF deliveries please see the UNICEF report here