WHO, South Sudan ramp up Ebola surveillance following suspected case

SOUTH SUDAN – South Sudan and the World Health Organization (WHO) have announced that they have stepped up Ebola virus disease (EVD) preparedness and response readiness in the high-risk counties of Morobo and Yei River, Central Equatoria state.

Fabian Ndenzako, WHO Representative for South Sudan said the UN agency has started developing a response plan and mobilizing resources to ensure that required preparedness and readiness priority activities are implemented.

“We must start working together with partners, mobilize necessary resources and remain ready to detect, report, investigate and respond to any suspected cases and deaths,” Ndenzako said in a joint statement issued in Juba.

He reiterated the WHO’s commitment to supporting enhanced national capacities for preparedness, surveillance and response to preserve national and international public health security.

Since the EVD outbreak was declared in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), South Sudan’s Ministry of Health with technical and logistical support from WHO and partners is scaling up preparedness and response readiness capacities in the high-risk counties which share direct borders with DRC’s North Kivu Province.

WHO said it supported the Ministry of Health to deploy a multidisciplinary team of epidemiologists, clinicians and infection prevention and control (IPC) officers, and risk communication experts to Morobo and Yei River counties to strengthen coordination, surveillance, IPC, and risk communication activities.

Yona Kenyi, State Surveillance Officer at the Central Equatoria State’s health department said the ongoing EVD transmission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo puts South Sudan at risk and South Sudan must remain vigilant and prepared to respond to any potential EVD case.

Although no case of Ebola has been confirmed in South Sudan, one suspect case of Ebola has been investigated from Yambio and tested negative for Ebola and Marburg virus following tests in the National Public Health Laboratory,” said Yona.

As of the 31 October 2021, eight cases (5 female and 3 male) had been confirmed in Congo, with the last case reported on 30 October 2021. Three deaths from September 2021 have been validated as probable cases (3 deaths including 2 female children under 5 years old and 1 adult).

Meanwhile, 9 people have died (3 probable, 6 confirmed) and 2 adults have been successfully treated and left the Ebola Treatment Centre (ETC) on 5 November 2021.

Cono is currently conducting mass vaccinations against Ebola, which have seen at least 608 people vaccinated, including 98 high-risk contacts and 274 contacts of contacts. Of the 608 people vaccinated, 71 are first-line responders.

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