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Sudan quarantines Ethiopian refugees over monkeypox infections in camp

By MAWAHIB ABDALLATIF
Saturday October 1, 2022

Sudanese authorities quarantine refugees at Al-Tunaydbah camp in the east of the country after three new cases of Monkeypox were detected. PHOTO | FILE

Sudanese authorities this week quarantined refugees at Al-Tunaydbah camp in the east of the country after three cases of Monkeypox were detected, raising the countrywide tally to 17.

The camp has about 25,000 refugees, according to the national refugee commission’s statistics, and hosts mainly Ethiopian refugees.

Officials said they have restricted the movement of refugees out of the camp and are not allowing new people into the camp to prevent the spread of the disease to the other areas in Gedaref state, particularly the Tunaydbah town located five kilometres from the camp.

“The authorities have started implementing health measures including environmental hygiene, control of entry to the camp, and campaigns to raise awareness among the refugees about the dangers of contracting the disease and how to protect themselves,” said the Commissioner of Al-Mafaza locality in Gedaref state, Othman Abdullah.

He added that health officials would investigate the monkeypox outbreak at the Al-Tunaydbah camp.

The Ministry of Health in Gedaref State announced it had received reports of 60 suspected cases from the AlIGHT organization that works in the Al-Tunaydbah camp, and two suspected cases at Umm Rakoba camp, west of Gedaref, which hosts 21,000 refugees.
The reports forced Sudan’s Director of the Health Emergency and Epidemic Control Department, Anwar Banga, to hold an emergency meeting with organisations working in refugee camps and other relevant authorities to discuss preparations to confront the disease.

The World Health Organization (WHO) says monkeypox is a zoonotic viral disease transmitted from person to person through close contact with sores, body fluids, respiratory droplets and contaminated tools such as bedding.

In July, WHO declared monkeypox a global emergency, underscoring the seriousness of the outbreak.

Its symptoms include fever, back pain and lymph nodes swelling.

Gedaref State hosts four main refugee camps located in the different parts of the state, and hosts nearly 100,000 refugees, including Ethiopians, Eritreans, Somalis and other nationalities.

The Federal Ministry of Health in Khartoum had earlier announced other cases of monkeypox.

Dr Montasir Muhammad Othman, Director of the Emergency Department and Control of Epidemics at the Ministry of Health, told TheEastAfrican that “with the confirmation of new cases, the number of monkey pox infections in the country has risen to 17 in total”.

“Out of the 17 infections, there are 8 cases in the border state of West Darfur, which borders Chad, two cases in North Darfur, one case in Central Darfur, three cases in Gedaref, one in Kassala, and two cases in Khartoum,” he said.

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