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Mystery outbreak in South Sudan kills three

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Three people have died from a ”mysterious haemorrhagic fever” in South Sudan’s Raja County in Western Bhar-el-Ghazal State, raising fears of an outbreak of Ebola.

On Thursday evening, South Sudan’s Ministry of Health said it is investigating the death of three people who had presented suspected symptoms of bleeding and fever, and indicated that some 127 similar cases had been recorded since last week.

“On October 3, a woman in Sir Malaga town died shortly after returning home from the market with symptoms of bleeding from nose and mouth. On the following day, two family members of the deceased presented similar symptoms and died as well,” a dispatch from the ministry said.

The government said the deaths triggered an alarm which prompted the army base in Sir Malaga to report to Raja.

“At 1pm on October 5, additional information was received from the same area indicating that three neighbours of the victims presented similar symptoms. One is critically ill and two are mildly ill,” the statement said.

In response, the Health ministry said it sent a team of six healthcare workers who included epidemiologists from the World Health Organisation, surveillance officers, clinicians, laboratory officers and hygiene officers to investigate the cases.

The team collected blood samples from two acutely sick patients. The samples are now undergoing testing at the Public Health Laboratory.

“The Rapid Response Team has listed a total of eight contacts and has also conducted a risk assessment, risk communication and mobilisation in the area. The suspected cases have no history of contact with the patients who have similar clinical manifestations,” said the ministry.

The government called on the World Health Organisation and other partners to address basic health services, stressing that the area has no road network, no health facility, lacks basic health services, and has no telecommunications coverage.

Sir Malaga town is located close to the Central African Republic.

According to a report released by Global Health Workforce Alliance, South Sudan faces a severe shortage of all categories of trained health professionals, including physicians and midwives.

The country relies on inadequately trained or low skilled health workers.

In May this year, doctors working as part of the Rapid Response Team threatened to lay down their tools if their incentives were not paid.

The healthcare workers highlighted the dangers posed by the surge in the number of coronavirus infections in the country and demanded the taskforce provides them with working incentives.

They also demanded accommodation to keep them away from their families to curb the spread of the pandemic to their family members.

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