UNMISS protection site for displaced people bans visits to prevent spread of COVID-19

6 Apr 2020

UNMISS protection site for displaced people bans visits to prevent spread of COVID-19

Gideon Sackitey

Heeding the advice of health experts, community leaders at the Bor protection of  civilians site have forbidden all visitors, thus making it less difficult for people living here to adhere to the necessity of social distancing.

“Apart from banning visits, we have also halted the arrival of new persons into the camp and their transiting to other parts of the country, as they might be coming from infected countries including our neighbours Kenya, Ethiopia and Uganda”, said Makuach Mun Kem, chairperson of the internally displaced people staying at the protection site, adding that the borders to these countries being closed does not necessarily prevent people from entering his country.

Mr. Kem, looking at the main square of the area where a loudspeaker blares out messages, in the predominant local language, on how to prevent the spreading of the COVID-19 virus, is particularly concerned about the disease entering the densely populated protection site and explains that the measures that have been taken may be extended beyond 30 April, the current end date.

“We have also set up a 15-member taskforce, which will be carrying out awareness-raising activities on how to protect the community from this dangerous threat,” he said, three days the first confirmed case of the Coronavirus was registered in South Sudan (on Sunday 5 April).

The first recorded case of the virus is being followed up by a thorough investigation, which includes identifying with whom the infected person has been in touch and then contacting these individuals for further measures to be taken. The government and the World Health Organization have urged the general public to remain calm, and to be extra diligent when it comes to hand washing and keeping a safe distance to others.

Makuach Kem said that people staying at the protection site are fully behind the precautionary actions taken by the government and its partners, including the closure of the country’s borders.

“It is a preventive measure to help save lives,” he notes.

Public gatherings have also been banned, and a door-to-door awareness-raising campaign is currently underway, according to the deputy chairperson of the protection site, Anna Joseph Chan.

The United Nations Mission in South Sudan has also issued several directives to its staff to nip the threat of the virus in the bud, including personnel working from their accommodations or from abroad.