The Ministry of Health on Thursday, May 14, announced the first coronavirus disease (COVID-19) fatality in South Sudan after a patient arrived at a military hospital in critical condition the day before. Authorities have warned of further virus-related deaths in the country, especially in densely populated internally displaced persons (IDP) camps. As of Friday, May 15, there have been 231 confirmed cases of the virus nationwide.
Previously on Tuesday, May 12, the South Sudan Civil Aviation Authority (SSCAA) announced that the country's airspace will reopen. The announcement followed a presidential directive from Thursday, May 7, to further ease COVID-19 lockdown restrictions. Under new measures, the SSCAA has declared that travelers and airline operators will be required to present medical certificates confirming a negative COVID-19 test and will be subject to a 14-day quarantine upon arrival into the country.
Markets, shops, bars, and restaurants have also reopened. Schools, churches, mosques, and nightclubs, however, remain closed as of May 14. Sports, funerals, and other public gatherings also remain suspended. The wearing of protective facemasks is mandatory in meetings, public places, and public transport. Motorbike taxis and rickshaws are allowed to operate, while buses and taxis are still only permitted to run at half capacity. A nationwide curfew currently runs from 22:00 until 06:00 (local time).
The first case of COVID-19 was reported on December 31 and the source of the outbreak has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan (Hubei province, China). Human-to-human and patient-to-medical staff transmission of the virus have been confirmed. Many of the associated fatalities have been due to pneumonia caused by the virus.
Cases of the virus have been confirmed in numerous countries and territories worldwide. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the global outbreak a pandemic.
Pneumonia symptoms include dry cough, chest pain, fever, and labored breathing. Pneumonia can be contagious and can be transmitted from human to human. The influenza virus, or the flu, is a common cause of viral pneumonia.
Measures adopted by local authorities evolve quickly and are usually effective immediately. Depending on the evolution of the outbreak in other countries, authorities are likely to modify, at very short notice, the list of countries whose travelers are subject to border control measures or entry restrictions upon their arrival to the territory in question. It is advised to postpone nonessential travel due to the risk that travelers may be refused entry or be subject to quarantine upon their arrival or during their stay. To reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission, travelers are advised to abide by the following measures:
- Frequently clean hands by applying an alcohol-based hand rub or washing with soap and water.
- When coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue; if used, throw the tissue away immediately and wash hands.
- If experiencing a fever, cough, difficulty breathing, or any other symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness, including pneumonia, call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to prevent the potential spread of the disease.
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