Juba, South Sudan, June 2, 2021- The government of South Sudan has warned the public that it could make the possession of the coronavirus vaccination certificate mandatory for all citizens intending to access its services.
Ironically, the development comes after thousands of COVID-19 vaccine doses from donors ended in redundancy at government health facilities before some were flown back as citizens turned their back on the vaccine.
Hussein Abdelbagi Ayii Akol, Chairperson of COVID-19 Taskforce warned that the government will not hesitate to implement strict measures, including the prohibition of entry into public offices should the current negligence of Covid-19 safety measures continue.
Abdelbagi also warned that the new variant of COVID-19 was already spreading at a very high pace in neighboring countries adding that the government cannot rule out the possibility of lockdown.
“We will not accept if you come to the public places like hotels and government’s guarded places (institutions) without something to prove that you have been vaccinated against COVID-19 because there’s a new variant which is spreading very fast in one of the neighboring countries,” said Abdulbagi without naming the affected country.
Abdelbagi warned that schools could be forced to shut down should they fail to implement preventive measures, including wearing face marks, washing of hands, and maintaining social distancing.
“I want to take this opportunity to inform all school’s administration that any pupil or student must wear a facemask and we as the Taskforce will be forced to shut down the school which does not comply with the rule. If we realize that people are not complying, we will impose lockdown,” Abdelbagi threatened.
In late May, South Sudan sent back over 70 000 doses of the coronavirus vaccine due to its incapacity to use up the doses while all the priority groups were yet to get their first jab.
“We didn’t want to run the risk of expiring here in our hands. It will be accounted for so we are committing back a number of 72 000 doses so that they are used by someone who can deploy these doses in one week,” Dr. Mayen Machuot, Undersecretary in the Ministry of Health said.
Though South Sudan’s cumulative COVID-19 cases have grown to over 10,000 with 115 deaths and 10 514 recoveries since the country confirmed its first case in early April 2020, the figure is projected to be higher.
It is also worth noting that South Sudan has downsized its COVID-19 emergency team in May citing a lack of funding. The country currently can hardly do contact tracing due to understaffing.