South Sudan extends COVID-19 lockdown

Thursday, April 23rd, 2020 14:22 | By
A man flags-off a public awareness campaign on Covid-19 by local companies in Juba, capital of South Sudan, April 22, 2020. (Xinhua/Denis Elamu)

South Sudan has indefinitely extended a partial lockdown imposed to contain the COVID-19 pandemic.

The country's COVID-19-taskforce on Tuesday extended closure of all schools, religious institutions, non-essential businesses and social gatherings such as sports events, conferences, weddings, and funerals.

A ban on international passenger flights, cross-border passenger services and a night-time curfew remains in place for an unspecified period, the body said.

The training of tens of thousands of security personnel to form a unified national army has also been put on hold indefinitely.

The restrictions were introduced in March amid a surge in COVID-19 cases globally.

Last week, the country banned domestic flights and interstate or intercity movement for 14 days to curb the spread of the virus.

South Sudan reported its first coronavirus case on April 5, and the number of confirmed cases has since risen to four. All four positive cases are United Nations staffers working in the country.

Out of 101 people who were suspected to have come into contact with the positive cases, 31 samples tested negative and the individuals have been discharged from quarantine, according to the ministry of health.

The World Health Organization said Wednesday it is expanding South Sudan's Infectious Diseases Unit (IDU) from its current 24-bed capacity to 80 beds to strengthen the fight against the virus.

The UN health agency said it acted swiftly to upgrade the emergency facility to alleviate hospital bed shortage, given the high risk of the spread of COVID-19 in the conflict-torn east African country.

Olushayo Olu, WHO representative for South Sudan, said expanding and equipping healthcare facilities is fundamental in protecting both patients and health workers.

"The expansion of the IDU establishes a tertiary health facility capable of delivering quality healthcare services and ensures adequate protection of staff, patients and prevention of environmental contamination," Olu said. (Xinhua)

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