Sudan: Isolation Wards Full As Sudan Covid-19 Cases Rise

Khartoum / El Gezira / Red Sea State / Sennar — A significant increase in the number of COVID-19 cases, which rose above 800 since the beginning of November, has been reported by the Sudanese Authority for Epidemiology.

Doctor Osman Hemeida, member of the National Authority for Epidemiology Operations Office, said in an interview with Radio Dabanga yesterday that the main challenge concerning coronavirus lies in open borders and poor awareness. He also claimed that people have stopped wearing face masks, sterilising, and social distancing.

Yesterday, a statement by the Socialist Doctors Association (SDA) reflected statistics which confirm that Sudan is experiencing a second wave of cases. "There has been an increase in suspected and confirmed cases of coronavirus in hospitals. The isolation ward of the Khartoum Teaching Hospital and the isolation centre at El Shaab Hospital is full."

In addition, the Universal Hospital, the Naval Hospital Centre, the Imperial Hospital, and other private hospitals in Khartoum recorded a "remarkable increase" in the number of admissions, according to the SDA.

Their statement warns that isolation wards in other hospitals, such as the Omdurman Teaching Hospital, Alban Jadeed Hospital, El Moalem Hospital, and the Jabra Hospiatal isolation centre are suffering from severe shortages in PPE and and qualified medical personnel, following the first wave of the pandemic. "The Ibrahim Malik isolation centre may close soon because of this."

Private hospitals have stopped receiving COVID-19 patients and closed coronavirus units, according to Hemeida.

In El Gezira, Governor Abdallah Idris opened a COVID-19 isolation centre on Wednesday. The centre was established in partnership between the state Ministry of Health and the World Child Care Organization.

However, there are almost no isolation centres equipped to receive coronavirus patients throughout the rest of Sudan, the SDA doctors said. Previously equipped wards were closed and the staff transferred after the first wave, which has caused some states to transport their suspected cases to Khartoum.

The doctors also condemned the imposition of "exorbitant fees" for examinations for travellers and the high prices of oxygen cylinders for home use.

Official statistics

Between Sunday and Wednesday, 55 new COVID-19 cases were registered in Sudan by the Ministry of Health. 35 in Khartoum, 15 in El Gezira, four in Red Sea state, and one in Sennar. No deaths occurred and ten patients recovered.

This brings the total cumulative number of confirmed infections since the beginning of the pandemic to 14,401, with 1,116 deaths and 9,535 recoveries.

The SDA said that the official statistics do not reflect the true size of the pandemic, first of all because they do not contain the checks that are conducted in the private sector, and second because of the lack of a test and trace system.

They called on the Sudanese Ministry of Health to play its role in dealing with the pandemic and to make an integrated response plan, rather than dealing with it as a security issue.

Hemeida called for setting regulations for gatherings and large events in Sudan, by limiting the number of participants, and introducing obligations for sterilisation of surfaces and hands, face masks, and social distancing. He also appealed to people to keep away from the elderly during gatherings.

On Wednesday, the High Committee for Health Emergencies urged "the youth of the revolution" to fully cooperate with the health authorities to implement health guidelines and requirements at the neighbourhood level.

Borders

There is no need to close the airports and ports if those coming from outside the country are required to have a negative COVID-19 examination certificate, said Hemeida, which could significantly limit the spread of the disease.

The SDA also demanded that a decision be taken to limit the spread of the disease by closing the borders and land, air, and sea crossings with countries with a high prevalence of cases. They also recommended "full commitment" to controlling border crossings including isolation centres at the borders for those coming to the country.

Listen to today's Our Health radio programme in Arabic here.

Radio Dabanga's editorial independence means that we can continue to provide factual updates about political developments to Sudanese and international actors, educate people about how to avoid outbreaks of infectious diseases, and provide a window to the world for those in all corners of Sudan. Support Radio Dabanga for as little as €2.50, the equivalent of a cup of coffee.

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