S. Sudan could be hit hardest by COVID-19, hundreds may die in June: Researcher

May 14, 2020 (Thessherald)–South Sudan, the world youngest nation could be one of the hardest-hit countries and an epicentre of the COVID-19 pandemic with increased mortality rates in June, if no preventive measures taken, said a global researcher in an op-ed article.

Naomi Pendle, a Research Fellow based at the Firoz Lalji Centre for Africa argues that, if COVID-19 case trends continue to rise as seen in other sub-Saharan countries, hundreds of thousands people may lose their lives in June.

“Covid-19 is highly likely to cause significant mortality in South Sudan. If the spread of the virus follows patterns that have occurred elsewhere in Africa, cases in South Sudan could be in the hundreds of thousands in June. The country has a young population, and thus, like elsewhere in East Africa.”

Naomi projected that the COVID-19 pandemic may co-occur with other preventable diseases that are prevalent in South Sudan.

“Yet, much is not yet known about how Covid-19 will interact with other comorbidities that are prevalent in South Sudan such as malaria, hepatitis, yellow fever, measles and malnutrition.”

“The lockdown measures imposed on 28 April and partially lifted on 7 May effectively import into South Sudan the approach to the virus that has been taken by much of Europe, and ignore alternative strategies that might be feasible in this context,” said the Researcher in a statement obtained by The South Sudan Herald.

Naomi stressed that in the absence of county commissioners and state governments, the implementation of preventive measures is likely to suffer setbacks.

“While the transitional government is still being appointed, there are no country commissioners and serious ambiguities over sub-national authority. Any implementation of lockdown is likely to be piecemeal, focused on the poor, and aggravate already-existing state–society tensions.”

South Sudan’s Ministry of Health has today confirmed the country’s first COVID-19-related death and a total of 231 confirmed cases.

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