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UN experts fear spread of COVID-19 in South Sudan

As South Sudan confirms its first two cases of COVID-19, members of the Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan urged the recently formed Transitional Government of National Unity to step up efforts to contain the spread of the virus.

As of last week, government officials had already begun implementing certain precautionary measures including a nationwide curfew, limiting social gatherings, and closing down some establishments.

“One cannot realistically talk about strict social distancing in a country where nearly one and a half million internally displaced persons are living in tents, often inches apart from one other, and subsisting on rapidly diminishing humanitarian aid,” explained Commission Chairperson Yasmin Sooka.

“Internally displaced persons are at a heightened risk of exposure to COVID-19 due to their limited access to basic services such as healthcare, water, hygiene and sanitation, food, and adequate housing. Those displaced are also often made to travel for hours or days to reach healthcare facilities, and their leading cause of death has therefore most often been preventable,” she added.

The poor availability of health services in South Sudan is also a concern.

Approximately 90% of health facilities countrywide are being run by international organisations, the commission noted.

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