An Ebola outbreak in South Sudan is more likely with a case detected close to its border with the DR Congo, a health official said, urging rebel groups not part of a 2018 peace deal to join hands in preventing it from entering the impoverished nation, ONA reports quoting Anadolu Agency.
The case, of a 41-year-old woman in Aliwara, 70 kilometers from the South Sudanese border town of Kaya “is a sobering reminder of the need to heighten our preparedness and response mechanisms, to ensure a rapid response in place, and to further protect our people should the virus sneak into the country,” the Undersecretary in the Health Ministry, Makur Matur Koriom, told reporters in the capital Juba on Friday.
“Two, three weeks ago it was 600kms away from South Sudan, now it’s only 70kms away from us, that is exactly 43 miles from Kaya, so there is no reason why we shouldn’t believe that it can cross in anytime,” Koriom said.
The government and other stakeholders are communicating with rebel groups opposed to the peace deal to allow access to communities under their control, Koriom said.
“Ebola is not a friend to anybody, it’s not an enemy of a particular person, it just mows down whoever stands on its way, so it’s important that we don’t let it come into the country, whether we are rebels or we are a government and I am very optimistic that these groups will cooperate with the government and the partners and the United Nations in ensuring that accessibility is not hindered in anyway,” he said.
“There is no reason to panic. However, the vigilance should be maintained to prevent Ebola importation.”
South Sudan has vaccinated over 2700 frontline health workers against Ebola and is ready to swing into action vaccinating communities should Ebola hit, Guracha Guyo, World Health Organization official, in charge of health emergencies in South Sudan, said.
“In the event that this status changes, vaccination will be available on short notice and will be for relatives and contacts and contacts of contacts,” Guyo said.