Since WHO declared COVID-19 a global pandemic, South Sudan followed suit and declared a range of preventive measures to stop the spread of the disease within its boundaries and to ensure the safety of its citizens.
Being a land-lock country and depending on Uganda and Kenya for the import of food and other essential goods, the closure of borders has affected South Sudan. The good news is that despite the fragile health system in the country, South Sudan has not reported any case of COVID- 19 until now.
The head of states belonging to the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) held an online conference to discuss and set up strategies to scale up response plans and figure out how to make progress on urgent COVID-19 protective measures for the region.
Locally, South Sudan has formed a high level taskforce, headed by the President, which has announced the following protective measures (to be reviewed on 25th April) to safeguard the country:
- Closure of Juba International airport and other airstrips; and of all borders with neighbouring countries.
- Safe social distancing.
- Closure of all public and private institutions.
- Limiting work time to half a day.
- Non- essential staff in government departments, private institutions and organizations have been awarded mandatory one month leave with pay
- Non-essential shops will remain closed.
- Public transport is permitted to take half of its capacity.
- Curfew is imposed all over the country.
Impact of COVID-19 on the country
Some of the measures taken by the high level task force on COVID-19 are listed below:
- The prices of food commodities have soared dramatically.
- High rate of unemployment.
- Most families have been pushed to poverty line.
- Imposed curfew.
- Other fatal diseases such as Malaria, HIV, Hepatitis and many others may threaten the lives of many people in the country.
Impact of COVID-19 on the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul
Acting in abidance with health authorities directives issued on 25th March 2020, the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul has taken the following measures:
- The Vocational Training Centre (VTC) has been closed for 30 days.
- The nursery and Primary school has been closed for the same duration.
- The Office has instituted measures like provision of hand washing with water and soap in all the premises.
- Non-essential staffs have been given 30 days as annual leave with pay.
- ‘Be in Hope’ Home has been supplied with necessary food items during this lock down and health awareness was given to the staff and beneficiaries to keep them aware of how they can protect themselves from COVID-19.
- Home learning, computer exercise and usual home activities during the imposed holiday.
- Construction of new school classrooms has ceased. Cost of building materials rose by 20% and is expected to keep rising as the impact of virus outbreak continues to throw a shadow onto country’s weak economy.
- SVDP support and visits to its poor clients in the conferences of charity have been affected.
In face of the current situation, SVDP management has adopted the following directives:
- Appointment of Dr. Wilson Lado Santo, the assistant SVDP executive manager, as the focal person for Corona-preparedness and advice within Saint Vincent de Paul, South Sudan.
- SVDP VTC manager and his team to revisit the training and courses timetable to mitigate and adjust the calendar in accordance to prevailing circumstances.
- The Management has directed the school administration to prepare and develop a school strategy, policies and guidelines that are not completed yet.
- Also management has resolved to speed up the finishing of the classrooms, which are under construction.
- Office has prepared for the worse case scenarios for essential operations and emergencies and having at all time a vehicle in good condition.
- The management will regularly monitor the situation.