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Chinese medical experts help South Sudan strengthen fight against COVID-19

Source: Xinhua Updated: 2020-08-29

JUBA, Aug. 28 (Xinhua) -- Medical experts sent by the Chinese government to South Sudan had advised the east African country to strengthen the battle against the COVID-19 pandemic.

At the conclusion of their nine-day mission to South Sudan, the Chinese medics produced a report, which provided an in-depth analysis of South Sudan's coronavirus situation.

The report released in Juba on Thursday reveals that South Sudan's COVID-19 response has deficiencies in the areas of emergency command system, community investigation, epidemic monitoring, infection prevention, clinical treatment, laboratory testing, health education, among others.

The report also finds that there is lack of public attention to the severity of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The report recommends the government to undertake reforms in the area of testing, control, treatment, epidemiological investigation and awareness creation.

The report also calls for strengthening of treatment and management of COVID-19 patients and asymptomatic cases by setting up centralized isolation and treatment centers across South Sudan.

It further recommends enforcement of strict preventive measures in public spaces like schools and religious institutions before the government could lift a four-month ban on social gatherings.

South Sudan only admits critically ill coronavirus patients at the Infectious Disease Unit (IDU) as asymptomatic patients are allowed to self-isolate in their homes.

Liang Chaozhao, head of the Chinese medical expert team, said the report was compiled following days of extensive face-to-face interactions with South Sudanese government officials, humanitarian organizations and South Sudanese health experts.

The Chinese medics also visited public places such as health facilities, markets and the Juba International Airport to assess control and prevention measures put in place by authorities.

"South Sudan needs to raise the awareness of epidemic prevention and control to fully realize the long-term nature of prevention and control new pneumonia and implement external defense," Liang said.

Speaking at the launch of the report, spokesperson of South Sudan's Ministry of Health Thou Loi, said the findings and recommendations of the Chinese medical experts would enhance the battle against the COVID-19 pandemic in the country.

"We are doing a lot with the Chinese and we will be looking forward to doing more with the Chinese in the health sector and areas of international public concern," Loi said.

Loi said the South Sudanese medics will continue to engage their Chinese counterparts whenever they need assistance and experience sharing.

"We will be looking forward to more interactions with the Chinese medical experts so that we develop a resilient health sector for the people of South Sudan," Loi added.

The eight-member team from China's Anhui Province arrived in South Sudan on Aug. 19 and they stayed until Aug. 27.

The team consisted of experts in the medical fields including laboratory technology, infection, intensive care, public health, and nursing.

During their nine-day mission, the Chinese medics shared knowledge and experience with senior South Sudanese government officials, local health experts, medical institutions and also trained South Sudanese medical staff on COVID-19 response.

South Sudan confirmed its first COVID-19 case on April 5. The total number has since risen to 2,519, with 47 deaths and 1,294 recoveries as of Thursday.