South Sudan Orders Compulsory Covid-19 Mass Testing and Vaccinations

South Sudan’s National Covid-19 Taskforce has ordered mandatory Covid-19 mass testing and vaccination across the country through the ministry of health in a bid to gauge the number of infections in the country.

The Director-General for Preventive Health Services and Acting COVID-19 Incident Manager in South Sudan Dr John Rumunu said during a press briefing on Sunday that  “the national task force on Covid-19 pandemic in its 15th deliberation held on Wednesday 13th October resolved to carry mass testing to both public and private institutions through rapid diagnostic tests to gauge the level of infections in the country. To carry mass vaccinations programs in all the public and private institutions,”

The Ministry of Health also urges the public to adhere to Standard Operations Procedures (SOPs) such as the mandatory wearing of the facemasks, maintaining social distance, provision of sanitisers, washing hands regularly with soap, and avoiding crowded places to minimize infections.

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Dr Rumunu added that an audit committee in the national task force will regularly inspect all institutions to ensure compliance with the order.

Dr John Rumunu added that “the audit committee in the national task force shall conduct routine inspections to ensure compliance. Therefore all the heads of public and private institutions are urged to comply immediately without hesitation to implement the order of the ministry of health,”

The World Health Organisation (WHO) Covid-19 Incident Manager in South Sudan Dr Sacha Bootsman says WHO does not recommend South Sudan’s government to conduct mandatory vaccination for everybody in the country.

“As for WHO comments on the memo from the National Taskforce on Covid-19, this is a government decision, this is not WHO decision. So this is obviously something that we just have to abide by. All I can say is that the WHO does not recommend mandatory testing or mandatory vaccination. But this is a National Taskforce and it is not WHO,” Dr Sacha Bootsman said.

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South Sudan has the lowest vaccination coverage of only 0.3% which is by far less than the WHO 10% coverage target for each African country by the end of September 2021.

About 120,413 doses have so far been administered including Johnson and Johnson vaccine across South Sudan.

According to the WHO, about 2,782 people have taken Johnson and Johnson vaccines in 12 medical centres in Western and the Central Equatoria States.

South Sudan recorded 109 confirmed covid-19 cases in the past one week bringing the total cumulative confirmed cases to 12,223 including 11,726 recoveries.

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