International medical charity, Medicines Sans Frontiers(MSF), has expressed concern about the spread of COVID-19 in densely populated camps hosting over 180,000 internally displaced persons in South Sudan.
The COVID-19 cases have been confirmed in two of the camps in Juba and the northern town of Bentiu respectively, MSF said in a statement released on Tuesday.
“This sharp increase in COVID-19 patients is very worrying,” said Claudio Miglietta, MSF’s head of mission in South Sudan.
South Sudan has confirmed 347 COVID-19 cases, six deaths and four recoveries as of Tuesday.
The total number of civilians seeking safety in six Protection of Civilians (PoC) sites across South Sudan was 188,649, the UN peacekeeping in South Sudan (UNMISS) said in its update of May 7.
“What is even more concerning is that now COVID-19 has started spreading among the population of some of the largest and most congested displaced persons camps in the country.”
The medical charity said the camps such as those in the towns of Bentiu and Malakal, face a precarious existence in an overcrowded environment, living in dire conditions, with poor access to water and soap. Maintaining physical distance and adequate hygiene levels in those camps is nearly impossible in the camps.
MSF said South Sudan has one of the most fragile health systems in the world and an estimated 7.5 million people in need of humanitarian aid.
“The pandemic is having a significant impact on our ability to provide key lifesaving services,” Miglietta said. Enditem