The UNMISS is aware that the health ministry and World Health Organization have confirmed the two cases in the camp in Juba, said Francesca Mold, a spokeswoman with the U.N. mission in South Sudan.
The health ministry’s emergency preparedness manager, Dr. Mathew Tut, said the two infected people were South Sudanese and in their 20s. South Sudan was one of the last countries in Africa to confirm a case of the disease and now has 174.
As of mid-April more than 190,000 people were still sheltering in several UNMISS run civilian protection camps across South Sudan, more than a year after a peace deal ended a five-year civil war. Nearly 30,000 are sheltering in Juba.
The prospect of the coronavirus’ spread to refugee and displaced persons’ camps in Africa, the Middle East and Asia has alarmed health and other aid officials as often remote locations, travel restrictions and shortages of medical supplies make any containment and treatment extremely challenging.
As of late April, almost none of the 10 million people packed into such camps around the world had been tested for the virus, The Associated Press found.
Aid workers in South Sudan have warned there is little more than isolation centers in place to treat people if the virus begins to spread in the crowded camps. The country’s health system relies on NGOs for almost all health services.
Most of the infected people so far have been treated at home instead of being isolated at the Dr. John Garang Infectious Diseases Unit, which the WHO has said is being expanded from 24 beds to 80.
Last week the South Sudan Doctors’ Union expressed concern over the government’s decision to partly relax virus lockdown measures, saying it “does not see urgency” in doing so as the number of cases are rising. Most cases in the past month were from local transmission, the union said.
Bars, restaurants and markets have resumed business.
South Sudan reopens airports
As directives from South Sudan president, Salva Kiir, South Sudan Civil Aviation Authority (SSCAA) has reopened the South Sudan airports. This come after the UNMISS confirmed first cases inside IDPs camps.
The SSCAA said South Sudan airports will now on be reopened to domestic and international flights despite the sharp increase in Coronavirus cases.
The announcement to open up the airspace on Tuesday, May 12, was made in line with the directives by the presidency to ease coronavirus preventive measures. The reopening was made and will also benefit UNMISS.
In March, the government suspended all flights (with exception to UNMISS aircrafts) and closed borders to prevent the spread of the disease.
But last week, President Kiir and his deputies resolved to allow all travels and trade, open bars and other businesses.
Since the lifting of restrictions on 8 May, South Sudan has recorded 54 more cases in less than 4 days.
But the civil aviation says they will comply with the directives as issued by the Presidency.
“The airspace of South Sudan is now open for operations [for] all airlines, domestically, regionally and internationally,” said David Subek, CEO, on Monday in the notice which was also directed to the UNMISS.
“So, I am just here to announce to the airline operators to send the message to other airlines or to their head offices that, our airspace is already opened for operations.”
The Secretary-General of South Sudan Airline Operators Union, Gabriel Ngang urged those intending to use the airlines – including UNMISS – to remain cautious of the virus.
“I want to advise our citizens that before you buy the ticket, you make sure that you read the guidelines and this guidelines we are going to give it to all our booking centers,” Ngang stressed.
However, some members of the public and human rights activists have voiced concern about the easing of restrictions saying only humanitarian air traffic including those belonging to UNMISS should be allowed.
On Sunday, An activist has warned that South Sudan risks a full-blown coronavirus outbreak if it continues with what he describes as reckless decisions by the government.
On Sunday, Executive Director of the Foundation for Development and Accountable Governance – Jame Kolol – said the decision was reckless, adding that South Sudan risks a full-blown coronavirus outbreak and that UNMISS should only be allowed to work.