JUBA, South Sudan

South Sudan announced a month-long lockdown Wednesday banning social gatherings, classes, religious services and political rallies following a sharp rise in coronavirus cases. 

“Due to the recent surge in the COVID-19 pandemic in the country and around the globe and as precautionary measures for all public and private sectors, the National Taskforce on COVID-19 has banned all social gatherings such as sporting events, religious events including Sunday church prayers, Salat ul Juma mosque prayers, funerals, weddings and political rallies,” said Hussein Abdelbagi Akol, vice president and chairperson of the National Taskforce on COVID-19.

He said all pre-schools, secondary schools and universities are also closed except classes scheduled for examinations with the observation of strict protective measures.

Akol also directed public institutions and private sectors to make provisions to allow non-essential staff to stay home on pay leave.

He said public transport will operate at half capacity and the wearing of face masks will be mandatory.

He instructed law enforcement agencies to take actions to impose the order.

In the last 48 hours, South Sudan registered more than 100 new COVID-19 cases, taking the country’s tally to 4,267 since April 5 last year, when the first case was registered. It also recorded one new fatality, bringing the death toll to 66 and registered 3,634 recoveries.

The government in May last year lifted a partial lockdown, prompting medical experts to warn of an upsurge in infections that would put pressure on a weak health care system already burdened by underfunding from the government.

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