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JUBA - 24 Jan 2020

South Sudan issues alert on coronavirus

File photo: Health Minister Riek Gai
File photo: Health Minister Riek Gai

South Sudan plans to step up surveillance for coronavirus at all the points of entry, especially Juba International Airport.

Countries around the world including South Sudan are exposed to a SARS-like virus that Chinese authorities on Wednesday warned it could spread during the travel season.

The virus that originated in China has so far been detected in the United States, Taiwan, Japan, Thailand and South Korea. This has prompted other countries to enhance fever checks at the airports to prevent the virus.

Speaking to reporters in Juba on Thursday, Health Minister Riek Gai Kok said passengers entering South Sudan will undergo thorough screening for the new virus before being allowed into the country.

”We are working with the Ministry of Transport and Civil Aviation to establish screening at major points of entry, including Juba Airport as a priority,” he said.

“There is no coronavirus identified in South Sudan and there is no reason to panic. However, vigilance should be maintained,” he stressed.

The ministry advised the public to ensure regular washing of hands with soap and water, and hand rubbing with alcohol if available. It also advised individuals to keep a distance from persons showing signs of fever, cough, and difficulty in breathing.

Minister Gai urged the public to adhere to the World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines.

For his part, the World Health Organization (WHO) representative in South Sudan, Dr. Olushayo Oluseun said South Sudan should be vigilant following the confirmation of the outbreak of coronavirus in China.

“We will continue to support the country with risk assessment and surveillance … we should bring in addition equipment to support screening at the points of entry,” Dr. Olushayo said.

South Sudan has vast business relations with China.