South Sudan said on Sunday it was monitoring the border with Democratic Republic of Congo (DR Congo) to avert the spread of Ebola during the COVID-19 pandemic era.
Thuou Loi, a spokesperson in the Ministry of Health, said Ebola prevention measures have been strengthened to prevent its spread in South Sudan that is already battling COVID-19 infections.
“Ebola is a source of concern and that’s why the (health) team will ensure that preventive measures for Ebola are strengthened so that we are ready to deal with public health issues of international concern like Ebola, COVID-19 and other viral diseases,” said Loi.
“Ebola is emerging now in DR Congo which is a walking distance to some of our counties, especially in Western Equatoria. Some people from Western Equatoria can walk into DR Congo and people from DR Congo walk into South Sudan,” he added.
Joseph Francis Wamala, World Health Organization (WHO) country preparedness and international health regulation officer, disclosed that South Sudan is categorized as priority two country for Ebola preparedness, due to the fact that it is located 4,000 kilometres away from the epicentre of the current outbreak.
“The world is so interconnected and that distance of 4,000 kilometres can mean a few meters considering the speed with which people can move by air travel,” said Wamala.
He said that the WHO has already done a risk assessment on Ebola to identify critical gaps to address in order to improve on the overall coordination, capacity to detect cases at the local level and capacity to test cases using Gene expert and also to monitor borders.
The latest Ebola outbreak in DRC was declared on June 1, 2020, in Equateur Province with a cluster of cases initially detected in Mbandaka, the provincial capital.
The outbreak has since spread to 11 of the province’s 17 health zones.
According to the WHO, the number of cases in the ongoing Ebola outbreak in Western DR Congo has reached 100.
Meanwhile, Matthew Tut, manager of emergency operation centre at the Public Health Emergency Center, confirmed five new cases of COVID-19 in South Sudan, bringing the total number to 2,504 from the previous 2,499 cases.
He said that the total number of tests carried out since April stood at 16,174, adding that currently there are 1,163 active COVID-19 cases, 1,294 recoveries and 47 fatalities. Enditem