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South Sudan to import COVID-19 vaccines as cases rise

Health worker disinfencts Juba airport from coronavirus on 31 January 2020 (AFP photo)

December 30, 2020 (JUBA) - South Sudan has announced that it is working with the Global Alliance for Vaccines (GAVI) to acquire vaccines for COVID-19 in January 2021 following a rise in cases.

Speaking to reporters in Juba on Wednesday, the director-general of preventive health services in the Ministry of Health, John Rumunu said they are preparing to acquire COVID-19 vaccines from GAVI, months after the first case was officially confirmed in April this year.

“The global vaccine initiative will pay the initial cost of the vaccine trials. The timeline expected is January,” he remarked.

According to the health official, the ministry has so far recorded 3,131 recoveries and 63 deaths due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

He said they intend to acquire vaccines, owing to the fact that countries globally have started using the vaccines against the virus.

“South Sudan and partners have requested GAVI to help in footing the bills for the first request of the vaccines,” explained Rumunu.

The health official expressed concerns that the health situation in the country is not improving since not enough COVID-19 tests are being carried out.

“We generally say that the situation is not improving, we only get information from samples, we are not testing enough,” he stressed.

Rumunu urged the the public to observe the standard operating procedures on COVID-19 to prevent the rise of more new infections.

“The Ministry of Health always maintains that people should regularly wash hands, sanitize, maintain a distance of at least two meters from each other and wear face masks in public,” he said.

In October, South Sudan started to normalize COVID-19 restrictive measures, reopening places of worship, schools and social gatherings.

According to the health ministry, there are over 3,000 COVID-19 cases confirmed in South Sudan with over 60 deaths to date.