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Ministry: No confirmed coronavirus cases in South Darfur

March 24 - 2020 KASS
Unamid peacekeeper in Darfur (File photo: Hamid Abdulsalam / Unamid)
Unamid peacekeeper in Darfur (File photo: Hamid Abdulsalam / Unamid)

On Monday, the Ministry of Health in South Darfur announced two suspected cases of coronavirus (Covid-19) among the Egyptian nationals who are currently serving as United Nations African Mission in Darfur (Unamid) peacekeepers in Kass in South Darfur. However, in a statement, Unamid says that tests on the suspected cases proved negative.

The Director-General of the Ministry of Health in South Darfur, Dr Mohamed Idris, told Radio Dabanga that two Egyptian nationals who are part of the current Unamid peacekeeping mission in Darfur were suspected of coronavirus infection due to the symptoms they had. “On March 6 this year, the Egyptian peacekeeping forces arrived in Kass as part of the Unamid peacekeeping force,” he added. He explained that since their arrival they have been quarantined in the mission’s camp in Kass.

Idris revealed that they took eight samples from the two suspected people and those who had contact with them. On Friday, we sent the sample to the National Health Laboratory (Astak) in Khartoum for confirmation and we expect the result on Monday.

However, in a press statement released on Monday, the Mission’s Medical Section said that there is no confirmed case of Covid-19 among mission forces yet. The statement said that the suspected people in question were thoroughly checked, but the result came out negative.

The statement further categorically dismissed the allegation that some eight of the mission’s personnel are suspected to be infected with coronavirus. “The entire military contingent which is subject to these rumours has been under self-quarantine, in accordance with Unamid’s Covid-19 preparedness measures, recommendations of the Government of Sudan health authorities and in line with the WHO’ recommendations” the statement explained.

Precautions

Last week, Unamid announced that it is entering “first phase readiness to combat and prevent spread of Covid-19”.

In a statement from Unamid HQ in Zalingei on Saturday, the mission said that it has adopted and is implementing a number of measures in its area of operations.

The measures are to ensure that the risk to its personnel and to the host country is minimised as well as ensuring that staff members strictly follow critical precautionary measures to avoid or minimise the chance of contracting Covid-19, in line with UN Division of Healthcare Management and Occupational Safety and Health (DHMOSH).

Flights grounded

As reported by Radio Dabanga on March 12, Sudan’s Civil Aviation Authority shut-down all direct flights from Egypt to Darfur by the Unamid peacekeeping mission.

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.

In his latest statement, Dr Idris, appealed to all the people of South Darfur to follow Ministry of Health instructions and guidance regarding that designed for safety and protection against the spread coronavirus, especially the obligation to stay at home, avoid gatherings, and refrain from shaking hands as well as washing hands with soap.

He described the health condition in Sudan in general and in the state as fragile, “therefore, it is imperative for everyone to cooperate with the authorities to fight this virus,” he said. Doctor Idris also warned against the consequences of underestimating and disregarding the declared health guidelines; “in some countries the virus spread easily because people did not follow the health instructions and guidelines,” he said.

Some major states have taken some decisive measures to combat the coronavirus epidemic, some states have imposed curfews, preventing gatherings and closing border crossings with neighbouring countries.

The Governor of East Darfur, Maj Gen Muzamil Abubakir, issued a decision imposing curfew in the local state from Sunday from 9 pm to 6 am on Monday. Also, the Governor of El Gedaref, Brig Gen Nasreldin Abdelgayoum issued a decision to close the borders and international crossings.

In Blue Nile State, the authority has decided to close the border with Ethiopia, especially with the border region of Benishangul. In Wad Madani locality, the authority has issued a decision closing the main markets in the city except for the pharmacies, worship places, bakeries, and other necessary places. However, the decision banned any public gathering and shut down places such as sports and watching clubs as well as Shisha (Hookah) lounges.

Sudan-wide curfew

As reported by Radio Dabanga yesterday, Sudan is to impose a country-wide dusk-to-dawn curfew from 8 pm to 6 am effective today, until further notice. The National Security and Defence Council announced the decision following its meeting earlier this evening. Public transport will also be curtailed.

The new precautions against the spread of the coronavirus (Covid-19) epidemic also include a shut-down of public transport to limit travel. All bus traffic will have to stop at 6 pm on Thursday.

These measures mirror those many countries across the world designed to contain the spread of the highly contagious disease. As of yesterday, no new cases of the virus have been identified in Sudan.

Radio Dabanga reported earlier today that according to the Sudanese Ministry of Health 47 people are still in isolation in two centres in Khartoum. In total, 341 people have been cleared and discharged from quarantine.

As of March 21, two cases of Covid-19 have been confirmed in Sudan. One of them died.


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