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Why Greater Pibor has not recorded Covid- 19 cases after outbreak

Map showing the 10 states and three administrative areas of South Sudan

By James AtemKuir

Greater Pibor Administrative Area (GPAA) is yet to record a single case of Covid-19 nearly two years after the deadly viral disease was first confirmed in the country, health officials revealed.

South Sudan recorded its first case of the pandemic on April 5, 2020. The disease has since spread to all parts of the country except GPAA which has consistently been reporting zero cases of the virus according to the Ministry of Health.

Dr. Bior Kuer Bior, Manager of the Public Health Emergency Operation Center – where Covid-19 tests have been carried out – said that GPAA there were no testing facilities in the area in addition to lack of partners implementing health services there. 

“The case of the Pibor Administrative Area that we have consistently been recording zero numbers of Covid-19, has a lot to do with the fact that there is a nonexistent testing center there,” DrBior said during the weekly news briefing on the situation of the pandemic on Sunday.

“So, if you cannot test, you cannot report but in the other areas, there are places where we have deployed GeneXpert and there are also places like Ruweng Administrative Area, we use rapid test, especially in the refugee camps. So, these big numbers from Ruweng Administrative Area are coming from the refugee camps.

“But in GPAA, we do not have a testing center there and we have not installed a GeneXpert machine. The way these GeneXpert sites are being determined, if there are partners there, for example, MSF will be the one to manage the facility but in the GPAA there is insecurity, most healthcare organizations have left the place,” he added.

Following rise in threats against NGO staff by local youth last year, dozens of aid workers were evacuated out of Pibor town for their safety. The local youth had demanded more employment opportunities for locals and accused some NGOs of giving jobs to nonnatives of the area.

The region has continued to suffer deadly violence due to intercommunal conflict between its natives and neighbouring communities from Jonglei State. The region was also devasted by floods last year.

The ongoing vaccination campaign against Covid-19 has however reached the restive area with the WHO reporting at least 1,181 people having received their jabs as of Sunday, March 20, 2022.

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