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COVID-19 spikes in Sudan’s Red Sea state – call for lockdown, curfew

July 25 - 2021 PORT SUDAN
Cartoon by Omar Dafalla (RD)
Cartoon by Omar Dafalla (RD)

Doctors in Sudan’s Red Sea state have called for a three-week lockdown and curfew to be imposed, and the state’s national and international borders to shut, as COVID-19 cases surge. The increase has been noted since mid-June with 289 cases recorded in the state during the last three weeks.

In an interview with Radio Dabanga, Dr Ahmed Dereyer, Director of the Emergency and Epidemic Control Department in Red Sea state, said that that the last week witnessed a decrease in cases and deaths, noting that 53 cases and one death had been recorded, but he cautioned that there are seven cases in the isolation wards.

Speaking from the state capital of Port Sudan, Dr Dereyer told Radio Dabanga that there are only 21 beds available in the state’s two isolation centres, and while the centres have sufficient oxygen available, there is a general shortage in the state, and the costs for filling, renting, and transporting oxygen have soured.

He said that during the period, the state recorded 1,291 patients of 45 years and older, 645 from 30 to 45, and 388 between 25 and 30, with 28 cases of people younger than 15.

‘Red Sea state has international borders with two countries and has more than six ports of entry by sea, land, and air, which helps the spread of epidemic…’

Dr Dereyer attributed the spike in the state to the arrival of cases from Khartoum, and says he cannot rule out that some of the infections came from India and other countries. “Red Sea state has international borders with two countries [Egypt and Eritrea] and has more than six ports of entry by sea, land, and air, which helps the spread of epidemic,” he explains.

He said that four medical teams from the Federal Ministry of Health are present in the state to develop solutions to the current wave, and said that the state’s Ministry of Health has taken a decision to convert the old isolation centre into a centre for suspected cases, and transfer all suspected cases to the new isolation centre. He explained that the state received 15,000 vaccination doses against the virus, and expects another 15,000 in the coming days, and he expressed his relief with the increase in the number of medical personnel who received vaccination doses, expecting a decline in the epidemic in the coming weeks.

’29-37 deaths a day’

The head of the Higher Committee for Cemeteries in the Red Sea state, Mohamed Mirghani, said that 37 casualties were buried in Port Sudan on Wednesday. He warned in press statements that the death rates had risen since the beginning of July to about 500 cases. He said that the number of dead who are being buried in Port Sudan ranged during the week between 29-37 bodies a day.

Activists launched the hashtag #IdarkwaPortSudan, #Red_Sea Corona, warning of the frightening increase in the number of people infected with the Corona virus in Port Sudan during the past days. They pointed to the high number of deaths in isolation centres. Health activists told Radio Dabanga of the high consumption of oxygen in isolation centres, and explained that the city had lost a number of leading figures to COVID-19 during the past few days.

Delta variant

Medical sources told Radio Dabanga the Delta variant (aka the Indian strain) is spreading in Port Sudan, however Minister of Health, Dr Omar El Najeeb denied the existence of evidence confirming this.


In response to the increasing infections, the Sudanese Doctors Association has demanded a curfew and closure of all access points to and from the state. In a report, the association said that the state is witnessing, in addition to the third wave of the Corona pandemic, the spread of suspicious cases of haemorrhagic fever. It clarified that 64 deaths have been recorded during the third wave, with 584 confirmed cases of infection from June 15 to July 21. The fatality rate stands at 3.5 per cent.

The association cautioned that the number of unrecorded cases could be much higher, “as the system for screening and referral to health institutions has collapsed due to lack of personal protection equipment for health personnel,” which they say led to a number of infections and deaths among medical professionals.

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