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Covid-19 cases ‘higher than official data’ – Eid prayers banned in Sudan

May 24 - 2020 KHARTOUM / OMDURMAN / EL FULA / EL FASHER
File photo (SUNA)
File photo (SUNA)

Mosques across Sudan have been unusually silent this weekend as prayers to mark Eid El Fitir, the feast marking the end of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan were banned. Sudan’s Minister of Health has acknowledged that “the actual number of Covid-19 cases is higher than the official data”.

On Friday, the Minister of Religious Affairs and Endowments, Nasreldin Mofreh, issued a decision to ban the traditional Muslim prayers of Eid El Fitir in light of the precautionary social distancing measures to limit the spread of Covid-19.

In a statement, Mofreh instructed all mosques in the country to comply with the decision. He appealed to the sheikhs, clerics, and all religious leaders to pray that the pandemic will be over soon.

In West Kordofan, the acting governor Maj Gen Abdallah Mohamed issued a decision banning the prayers of Eid El Fitir in all mosques in the state. “Those who do not comply with it will face imprisonment or a fine,” he said.

In Omdurman, the Ansar Religious Affairs Authority decided to suspend the Eid El Fitir prayers for this year in all the mosques under its supervision as part of the precautionary social distancing measures.

Covid-19 cases ‘higher than official data’

Sudan’s Federal Ministry of Health reported 235 new Coronavirus (Covid-19) new cases and 16 deaths, which brings the total number of cases to 3,378 with 137 deaths and 372 recovery cases in the country.

However, in an interview with the BBC Arabic on Friday, Minister of Health Akram El Tom admitted that the actual number of those infected with Covid-19 is higher the those formally reported in the health system. “The undermining of the health authorities and the precautionary social distancing measures are the primary reason for the rapid increase of the pandemic in the country,” El Tom said.

El Tom explained that there are shortcomings associated with the authorities such as the weak implementation of the precautionary social distancing measures in some states and localities that facilitated the spread of the pandemic. 

The government is planning to evacuate  stranded Sudanese in foreign countries directly after Eid El Fitir. “We are taking precautionary measures including the possibility for quarantining for those coming back,” he said.

Field inspections in Darfur

On Friday, a delegation of the Sudanese government officials headed by Minister of Cabinet Affairs, Omar Manis arrived in El Fasher to assess the recent disproportioned death toll in the state, where at least 100 deaths have been registered.

In a press statement, Manis told reporters that the PM Hamdok instructed the delegation to go and find out the reasons behind the increasing death toll as Covid-19 claimed more than 100 lives.

Previously, Radio Dabanga reported that a full lockdown of El Fasher, capital of North Darfur, imposed after dozens of elderly people died within a week.  On Wednesday, the North Darfur authorities reported 79 deaths, especially among the elderly, within a week, in addition to the emergence of cases of loss of smell and taste.

He said that the visit aims to investigate the causes of the recent death tolls and finding ways to contain the health situation in the state.

Manis explained that they decided to form an investigative committee to investigate the causes of the death tolls in North Darfur capital El Fasher. He appealed to the residents of North Darfur to follow and respect the precautionary social distancing measures to limit the spread of the pandemic.

The Undersecretary of the Ministry of Health, Sarah Abdelazim reassured that the ministry will do its best to provide any possible technical support to limit the spread of the pandemic. She emphasised the importance of investigating the causes on the ground.

The delegation included Minister of Cabinet Affairs, Omar Manis, Sarah Abdelazim, Undersecretary of the Ministry of Health Yousef El Dei, Minister of Federal Governance, Babikir Magboul, and Director of the Health Emergency and Epidemiology Department of the Federal Ministry of Health.


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