COVID-19: Alarming Turn and Strong Measures
Sudan is Free of the Omicron Variant of the COVID-19 Virus.
There is a significant increase in the incidence of COVID-19 in Khartoum, Aj Jazirah, and River Nile states based on available data received by the World Health Organization (WHO) since 25 October. WHO received reports that public isolation centers in Khartoum, River Nile, and Aj Jazirah have bed occupancy rates of above 90 percent in the past few weeks. There are reported shortages of oxygen, essential medicines, trained staff, and lack of funds to cover running and operational costs. Additional capacities to provide care for moderate and severe patients are limited and need to be scaled up in these states to prevent further transmission.
According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), health partners support COVID-19 activities in the Blue Nile, Khartoum, Red Sea, and South Darfur states, and additional support by health partners is being requested by health authorities in the most affected states.
The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has also delivered emergency medical assistance to hospitals in Khartoum to support medical needs. The delivery included two emergency health kits to “Ibrahim Malik” and “Al-Mualim” hospitals in Khartoum. The kits cover basic medical needs for up to 40,000 patients over three months.
The Sudanese Ministry of Health reported that the country is free of the Omicron variant of the COVID-19 virus.
In a press conference, newly appointed Health Ministry’s Undersecretary Haisam Ibrahim denied the presence of Omicron cases registered in Sudan.
He spoke about the importance of being vaccinated and confirmed that the four types of vaccines available in the country are “equally effective and safe”, saying that there are four million doses currently available, while another six million doses are expected to arrive soon.
Ibrahim emphasized the need to expedite vaccinating Sudanese over 18 years old and the issuance of a vaccination certificate. Only three percent of the Sudanese have been vaccinated against COVID-19, while the target is 20 percent of the population. Therefore there is “a tendency to compel vaccination” among medical experts, he said, especially since infection rates have reached seven percent.
The Undersecretary said he expects more lockdowns in parts of the country with these “dangerous spread rates”. During a few weeks, White Nile state and El Gedaref have temporarily closed schools to contain the spread of the coronavirus.
Sudan was the first country in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region to receive vaccines via the international COVAX Facility coalition. The first batch of 828,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine arrived at Khartoum with UNICEF support at the beginning of March.
It is worth noting that The Sudanese transitional government took measures early on to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic. Over the past few days, the spread of the coronavirus has taken an alarming turn in the country. The Health Emergency Committee declared a total lockdown of Khartoum State to last for three weeks; starting Saturday 18 April. Among the biggest concerns of a fragile transitional government is the lack of respect for social distancing measures and the disregard of the strong advice against large public gatherings.