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Health Minister: ‘Sudan still coronavirus-free’

UN aircraft at El Geneina airport (File photo)
UN aircraft at El Geneina airport (File photo)

Sudan’s Ministry of Health insists that the coronavirus has not yet been identified in Sudan, citing that laboratory tests have confirmed this. Border crossings are being tightened and Sudan’s Civil Aviation Authority today shut-down all direct flights from Egypt to Darfur by the Unamid peacekeeping mission.

At a news conference at the official Sudan News Agency (SUNA) yesterday, Health Minister Akram El Tom said that the ministry is continuing to investigate a suspected case of corona at the Fideil Hospital in downtown Khartoum.

He stated that the High Committee for Preventing Epidemiology, made up of a number of authorities, submitted a recommendation to the Security and Defence Council regarding the tightening of entry measures for people.

It also recommended tightening entry through 16 crossings, six of which are the most dangerous, and directed to provide them with health personnel and supply of isolation wards.

He pointed out that the measures taken by the ministry at airports and other crossings are enough to prevent the entry of the epidemic.

Minister El Tom said that the ministers reviewing this situation on the coronavirus daily, and explained that through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Consulates, the ministry is following the situation of Sudanese abroad, including one case of infection in Kuwait and isolated students in the United Arab Emirates.

The Ministry of Health in South Darfur refused to receive Egyptian soldiers from the Unamid peacekeeping mission, and asked the central government not to authorise the Egyptian aircraft to land at Nyala airport.

Today, SUNA reports that the Civil Aviation Authority issued two international publications for the stop of direct flights of Unamid personnel from Egypt to the three Darfur airports.

The spokesperson of the Civil Aviation Authority, Dr Abdelhafiz Abdelrahim, explained in a statement to SUNA that the two international publications were directed to pilots of flights from Egypt to El Fasher, Nyala, and El Geneina, to land at Khartoum airport to allow for incoming personnel to be properly screened according to the precautionary health procedures, effective March 11 until April 15. This may be extended.

The Director General of the Ministry of Health in South Darfur, Mohamed Idris, said in a statement that the ministry will not be able to receive this mission because of the information available to it from the World Health Organisation of the increasing number of cases in Egypt (55 confirmed cases) in addition to the presence of an Egyptian steamship with 13 cases found among its passengers and recording one death.

Medicine shortage

Federal Health Minister El Tom, further acknowledged a shortage of medicines, noting that the arrears of medicines that were imported by medical supplies since last November have not been paid, which amount to seven million Euros.

He noted the agreement of the joint meeting of the Sovereign Councils, the Cabinet and the Forces for Freedom and Change on Tuesday to consider the Dollar as a strategic commodity such as fuel and flour.

He indicated seeking to provide SDG 38 billion to import a new batch of medicine.

El Tom said that the government has not yet covered the private sector’s need for foreign exchange, which covers two-thirds of the citizens ‘medicine needs.

He explained that the need for the private sector to import through credits amounts to €55.8 million.

He said that the Ministry is in the process of holding a workshop to discuss the issue of providing foreign currency for importing medicines through the private sector, with representatives of the Bank of Sudan and relevant authorities.

On health services fees, the Minister of Health said that the Ministry directed the governors not to implement the announced increases in health services fees and directed to reduce the current fees to 50 per cent.

El Tom pledged that the Ministry of Health will pay the second part of the fees in the context of heading to free treatment.

He stressed the need to expand the health insurance umbrella horizontally and vertically to include all employees, teachers and vulnerable groups.

He said that during the first half of the budget, the ministers will appoint 1,000 health personnel.

El Tom demanded that hospital lines be allocated similar to the strategic facilities, pointing out that El Naw Hospital in Omdurman stopped working today due to power outages.

He pointed out that some health facilities are about to be closed due to lack of health personnel.

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