Situation Report
Community members in White Nile distributing COVID posters and sanitation products at a local hospital UNDP
Community members in White Nile distributing COVID-19 posters and sanitation supplies at a local hospital (UNDP Sudan)

COVID-19 pandemic’s second wave hits twice faster and has major socio-economic impact on families

The second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic hits Sudan twice as fast, with about the same number of cases and deaths reported in almost half the time of the first wave, according to the Federal Ministry of Health (FMoH) data. Since 16 October, FMoH reported that 5,528 people had contracted COVID-19, including 458 people who died from it. During the first wave, 5,500 cases and 456 deaths were registered in about three months.

During the first two weeks of October, the average daily number of cases reported was less than 10 but increased to over 100 cases every day after mid-November and reached 200-300 cases daily in late November and early December.

While the number of new corona virus cases and deaths is increasing, health experts believe that the figures might be underreported. FMoH reports that more than 83 per cent of the samples collected for COVID-19 testing over the past weeks were from travellers seeking health certificates to travel abroad, and the rest from the general public.

Meanwhile, about 93 per cent of the 254 health workers in Khartoum State who were tested for COVID-19 were found positive, according to the FMoH. Overall, across Sudan three-quarters of the 800 health staff who took a COVID-19 test, tested positive.

Khartoum State accounts for 75 per cent of all COVID-19 reported cases, but only for 34 per cent of the reported COVID-19 deaths. It should be noted that most of the testing being carried out is of people who are travelling, usually from Khartoum. This means that there could be many more cases outside of Khartoum State that are not being tested or reported.

As of 20 December, 23,316 people were confirmed with COVID-19, including 1,468 people who died of COVID-19, according to the FMoH.

While the corona virus continues to infect thousands and kill hundreds of people, the pandemic is affecting millions more people across Sudan. On 1 December, the World Bank (WB) and the Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) of Sudan presented the findings of the Sudan High Frequency Survey on COVID-19, implemented jointly by CBS and WB. The objective of the survey is to monitor COVID-19 and its socioeconomic impact on Sudanese households. The panel survey involves multiple rounds, with the first two rounds carried out from 16 June to 5 July and from 13 August to 3 October – and targeted 4,032 households from all 18 states of Sudan using phone interviews.

The survey found that COVID-19 has had a substantial impact on food consumption, mainly due to price increase. More than 20 per cent of the households interviewed were unable to buy bread and cereals as well as milk and dairy products. About 45 per cent of households reported being worried about having enough food to eat, and many modified their eating habits. The findings of the survey echo with the IPC estimate of 9.6 million (21 per cent of the population) acutely food insecure people in June-August 2020.

About 25 per cent of the respondents required medical assistance but were unable to access it due to the unavailability of medical personnel and movement limitations. In addition, 27 per cent of households could not access medicine due to unavailability of drugs of medicines being out of stock, high prices of medicines or pharmacies being closed.

The latest figures on medicine imports by the Central Bank of Sudan (CBoS) indicate that while the imports of drugs during January-September 2020 increased by about 14 per cent compared to the same period of 2019, the level of imports is still 25 per cent lower compared to the same period of 2017, the pre-crisis year.

Moreover, only 10 per cent of households with children who attended school before the outbreak of COVID-19 were engaged in learning activities during school closures due to COVID-19.

About 67 per cent of the respondents who worked before the COVID-19 lockdown still had not returned to work by June/July 2020. Among the employees who stopped working, 29 per cent received their full salary, while 43 per cent received part of their salary and 28 per cent received no payment.

There have also been substantial income losses. For Sudanese households that normally receives remittances 25 per cent reported a decline in international remittances and 32 per cent saw reductions in their domestic remittances. Only 3 per cent of households reported receiving social assistance of any kind.