South Sudan Begins Screening Travelers as Coronavirus Tremor the World

By Deng Machol

Passengers from an international flight being screened at Juba International Airport in South Sudan Passengers from an international flight being screened at Juba International Airport in South Sudan (AFP Photo/Alex McBride)

Obihiro, Japan – South Sudan has joined the rest of the world in screening all travelers at its airport to help obviate the spread of the coronavirus, as the country also struggling to end the five – years’ conflict.

On Friday, the Juba Ministry of Health in collaboration with partners launches a corona virus machine to screen travellers at the airport to determine the disease.

According to the report, coronaviruses are a large family of viruses, was caused by a novel disease that affects animals and human begins that cause illness ranging from the common cold, fever, cough to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome.

The deadly disease which started in the Chinese City of Wuhan late last month is reported to have already killed over 250 people with over 11,820 confirmed cases in all regions of China.

But the virus has spread across China and to at least 16 countries globally, including Thailand, France, the US and Australia. However, more nations withdraw its citizens from China, including Japan.

In reaction to coronavirus, Dr. Mike Ryan, the head of the World Health Organization’s Health Emergencies Programme, warned that the “whole world needs to be on alert” to fight the coronavirus. He further praised China’s response to the deadly outbreak, saying: “The challenge is great but the response has been massive.”

Also, Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa, has sent out a guidance note to all countries on how to prepare for a possible novel coronavirus outbreak.

“It is critical that countries step up their readiness and in particular put in place effective screening mechanisms at airports and other major points of entry to ensure that the first cases are detected quickly,” said Dr. Moeti. “The quicker countries can detect cases, the faster they will be able to contain an outbreak and ensure the novel coronavirus does not overwhelm health systems.”

The WHO has identified 13 top priority countries  in Africa such as Algeria, Angola, Cote d’Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Mauritius, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia, which either have direct links or a high volume of travel to China.

 But South Sudan, which hosted hundreds of Chinese, who are doing vary businesses in different fields, includes oil, can’t be left out, it might get coronavirus directly or indirectly.

As part of response intervention, South Sudan launched a detective machine that will help to sense the virus in the human body, as a part of preparedness measure to protect South Sudanese.

South Sudan’s Health Minister Dr. Riak Gai Kok said Juba and Beijing will not suspend travels between the two countries.

“We will not suspend travels between China and South Sudan but we are appealing to people that you consider the fragility of our health system and the vulnerability of our people,” said Gai, during the launch of the specialized equipment at Juba International Airport on Friday.

Gai further appeals to South Sudanese and people from China or other affected countries to reduce travelling until the disease is contained and advises the public to stop unnecessary greetings to stop the spread.

“I’m appealing to the people to reduce travelling to China Sometimes you don’t respect the feeling of others when you are sneezing. You just do it


anyhow. Even you are in a very close proximity to your friends or family members. Can we try to help ourselves to at least reducing these greetings?” Dr Gai emphasizes.

On the other hand, WHO South Sudan Health Emergencies Program, Wamala Joseph warns that there is no vaccine or cure against the disease and that people should be careful.

“We need to observe the general hygiene measures involving regular hand washing with soap and water. When you have a cough, you cover your mouth and nose with either flex elbow, or use tissue and promptly deposit it into rubbish pit and when you are coughing, you can also choose to use a mask. If you are near someone who is coughing, having fever, you should keep a distance from them and if you visit any place where there are animals, you should try as much as possible to avoid direct contact with animals”, Joseph adds

Chinese Ambassador to South Sudan, Hua Ning, describes the launch as a very important preparedness way to prevent the spread of the disease to South Sudan.

“Today we are very happy to join together at the Juba International Airport to see that a new screening machine is installed. It is another importance that to make preparation for any infectious diseases”, says the Chinese Ambassador.

The specialized equipment for detecting any infectious disease was donated by the government of Japan.

 More, the WHO is working closely with global experts, governments and partners to rapidly expand scientific knowledge on this new virus, to track the spread and virulence of the virus, and to provide advice to countries and individuals on measures to protect health and prevent the spread of this outbreak.

The disease has spread to so many countries in the world, although there is no case reported in Juba, but there is heavy traffic between South Sudan and China.

Minister Gai advised travelers to follow the regulations at airports knowing that South Sudan is vulnerable in handling any outbreak.

 “If one case is imported to South Sudan, it will be a disaster and we have abundance and surplus of problems,” Gai said, in regards to the conflict that broke out late 2013, which has killed 400,000 people and uprooted four million people from their homes both internally and externally.

President Salva Kiir and ex-rebel leader, designated vice president Dr. Riek Machar are expected to form a new unity government by February 22 after being extended twice since they inked the peace deal on September 2018.

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