Coronavirus: South Sudan records first case, in UN aid worker

Coronavirus: South Sudan records first case, in UN aid worker
Coronavirus: South Sudan records first case, in UN aid worker

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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - South Sudan announced its first case of Covid-19, making it the 51st of Africa’s 54 countries to report the disease.

A United Nations worker who arrived in the country from the Netherlands on February 28 is ill with the disease, First Vice President Riek Machar and the UN mission in South Sudan announced. The patient, a 29-year-old woman, first showed signs of the disease on April 2 and is recovering, officials said.

South Sudan, with 11 million people, has only four ventilators and wants to increase that number, said Mr Machar, who emphasised that people should stay one to two metres away from others.

“The only vaccine is social distancing,” Mr Machar said.

The patient is under quarantine at UN premises and health workers are tracing the people who have been in contact with her, said David Shearer, head of UN operations in South Sudan.

He said he hoped the measures would contain the case.

To prevent the spread of the virus in South Sudan, President Salva Kiir last week imposed a curfew from 8pm to 6am for six weeks and closed borders, airports, schools, churches and mosques.

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and a cough, and the vast majority survive. But for others, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can be more severe, causing pneumonia or death.

Recovering from a five-year civil war, South Sudan has several camps with thousands of displaced people. Across the border in Uganda is Bidibidi camp with more than 250,000 refugees from South Sudan. Crowded and with rudimentary facilities, the camps are high-risk areas for the spread of the virus, according to health experts.

With the disease in South Sudan, there are now only three countries in Africa that have not reported any cases of Covid-19: the tiny mountain kingdom of Lesotho in southern Africa and the island nations of Comoros and Sao Tome and Principe.

Ethiopia on Sunday reported its first death from the virus and announced five more cases, bringing its total to 43, most of them imported by travellers.

Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed held discussions on Sunday with opposition party leaders on measures to combat the virus. A number of Ethiopia’s regional states have put in place bans on movement of people and vehicles, but not yet in the capital Addis Ababa.

In Kenya, the government extended its travel ban for 30 days.

Updated: April 6, 2020 08:21 AM

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