South Sudan, one of five virus-free African countries, says it has carried out 18 tests for the COVID-19 since the outbreak of the pandemic.
A March 31, 2020 statement from the office of the first vice-president confirmed that the country had no case of coronavirus. The same day that Burundi confirmed an index case leaving South Sudan as the only East African country uninfected.
“The High Level Taskforce would like to inform the general public that all the 18 samples collected since the outbreak of COVID-19, have tested negative for COVID-19 by Polymerase chain reaction (PCR).”
The statement went on to caution against the spread of rumors about an infection in the country. “I am urging people to ignore circulating rumours about the outbreak of the deadly virus in the country.
“People should not panic and be scared of the rumours being spread by social and local media,” the statement added. Rwanda has the highest infection rate on mainland East and Horn of Africa region with 75 cases with the lowest being Burundi’s two cases. Mauritius, however, has 175 cases as of March 31.
Previously, some experts had expressed doubts about South Sudan’s prolonged no case citing that the country could have failed to detect cases due to lack of capacity. Across Africa, South Africa has run over 40,000 cases and has recorded over 1,300 cases.
In mid-March this year, South Sudan suspended flights from countries affected by coronavirus, including Egypt and United Arab Emirates. On 25 March, President Salva Kiir issued an order imposing a night-time curfew, as part preventive measures against coronavirus. The measure started on March 26.
Interior Minister Paul Mayom Akec announced the measure stressing that the populace were expected to stay home from 8pm until 6am across South Sudan until further notice.
Akec further said health conditions requiring movements of ambulances, broadcast journalists on duty and network operators on duty would be exempted. “The order is in compliance of the republican order issued by the President for the protection of the citizens of South Sudan from the health risk of COVID-19,” he explained.
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