COVID-19 isolation centres in Sennar are witnessing a significant increase in the number of people infected with the coronavirus. The Socialist Doctors Association has criticised the new measures taken by the Sudanese government this week to curb further spread of the pandemic. Work in Nyala Teaching Hospital has been brought to a virtual standstill as doctors went on strike on Wednesday in protest against the recurrent attacks.
Speaking to Radio Dabanga from Singa, capital of Sennar, a medic reported “a remarkable increase in the number of positive coronavirus cases”.
The number of deaths due to the highly infectious disease has risen as well, he said, and lamented the indifference of the people to the pandemic and the measures taken by the authorities. “People continue, without thinking, to visit markets and public events, without even using masks.”
The General Administration of Emergency and Epidemic Control of the Sudanese Ministry of Health reported 36 new COVID-19 patients in the country on Wednesday, bringing the total number of cases in Sudan to 35,071 since the beginning of the epidemic in March last year.
Most of the cases were recorded in Khartoum, while neighbouring El Gezira reported five, North Darfur and Kassala each two, and White Nile state one new COVID-19 patients.
On Wednesday, the federal government announced new measurements in an attempt to curb the spread of the coronavirus, in particular of the new Indian variation. Public gatherings have been banned, employers should limit the number of personnel, sport matches will be held again without audience, and people visiting places of worship have to keep to all health requirements.
The measures also included the suspension of studies in universities and schools for one month. However, the ban on schools was revoked later that day, after the Ministry of Education, that was not involved in the decision, protested. After the school exams, scheduled for the end of May and in June, will be finished, the schools will close their doors anyhow for a couple of months.
In a statement yesterday, the Socialist Doctors Association criticised the management of the coronavirus pandemic by the Sudanese COVID-19 Health Emergency Committee that is “controlled by the military”.
The Association speaks about “a security mentality” and describes the decision to ban gatherings as “political and military par excellence”. With these measures, the government aims “to counter calls for revolutionary escalation,” the medics stated.
They called on the government instead “to improve the work environment in the health institutions and isolation centres by providing lifesaving medicines and providing adequate budgets and aid”.
The doctors as well called for the dissolution of the Health Emergencies Committee and the formation of a Health Ministry committee to control the pandemic, “provided that it will be headed by the civilian executive government, with the participation of professional, revolutionary medics”.
In addition, the Association criticised the low vaccination rate in the country, while the vaccines available will expire at the beginning of July. The government should set up large health education campaigns and increase access to vaccination centres.
The doctors of Nyala Teaching Hospital in South Darfur downed their tools on Wednesday, in protest against the repeated attacks by military forces on the medical staff.
In a press statement, the medics mentioned eight violent incidents so far in May. All attackers were members of the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF*).
The medics called on the South Darfur Security Committee “to provide adequate protection for health personnel on a permanent and continuous basis and to allow only one person accompanying the patient to enter the hospital”.
* Since August 2019, the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) consist of both the army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) which was set up by the ousted Al Bashir regime in 2013 to combat rebel movements in the country. At the same time however, the militia stays a force unto intself, commanded by Mohamed Dagalo, better known as ‘Hemeti’, Deputy President of the country’s Sovereignty Council.