JUBA – South Sudan government authorities on Monday warned of a full-blown outbreak of coronavirus just a few days after President Salva Kiir eased lockdown measures raising fears of further escalation of the pandemic.
As some COVID-19 patients are refusing to cooperate with health workers, the country’s ministry of health on Monday reported that 18 more people have tested positive for the deadly virus bringing the overall coronavirus toll to 174.
COVID-19 is the illness triggered by the coronavirus. The virus has spread from the capital, Juba, to the cities of Yei and Bentiu and the disputed Abyei region along the Sudan/South Sudan border.
Dr. Mathew Tut, the South Sudan government deputy incident manager for COVID-19 task force said laboratory technicians are able to test only 500 samples per week, which he said hampers efforts to prevent the spread of the virus.
Medical staffs worried
South Sudan government is only managing 18 of the 174 cases at an isolation centre it set up and this is worrying medical staff, according to Tut.
Some patients have refused to cooperate with health officials, making contact tracing very difficult, according to Dr Joseph Wamala, the WHO’s emergency response officer in South Sudan.
He said their reluctance to help with contact tracing means the virus can spread uninterruptedly and will jeopardize efforts by the South Sudan government to fight the disease.
“The big threat they pose is to their immediate family members … to their immediate family, friends but also to the community,” he said.
He added people need to take the pandemic seriously, “because COVID-19 is non-forgiving. When it strikes, it strikes hard.”
As the number of COVID-19 cases rises in South Sudan, the South Sudan government official said the task force will work with outside agencies to fight the spread of the disease.
“We will definitely need other actors to come on board in terms of taking care of other elements that are outside the scope of the Ministry of Health or the health sector; feeding and taking care of those patients for example, whether they are in quarantine and whether they are asked to be in isolation in their homes,” he said.
A total of 40 deaths and 2,330 new cases were registered on Monday in Africa.