Minister, 19 staffers at Sudan PM office test positive for COVID-19

Minister, 19 staffers at Sudan PM office test positive for COVID-19

Staff from the office of Sudan PM Abdallah Hamdok are self-isolating after 19 members, including Cabinet Affairs Minister Omer Manis, tested positive for coronavirus during a recent random sampling.

In a Thursday evening statement, the Ministry of Health said others who tested positive include media advisor Dalia Al-Ruby, financial and administrative affairs officer Mahmoud Hussein, and cabinet affairs director Yousef Al-Bashir.

The Ministry said Hamdok tested negative, but the prime minister’s staff went into self-isolation and is being monitored by health personnel.

Dr. Muhiddeen Hassan, a member of the Isolation Command Center in Khartoum state, called this second wave of the pandemic “terrifying.”

“We have a problem with the number of oxygen cylinders, we have a gap of around 1,100 tanks of cylinders, this is one of the main factors preventing us from expanding services in the hospital, either primary or secondary,” Dr. Hassan told VOA’s South Sudan in Focus.

Another major inhibiting factor is not enough medical staff to handle all the cases, according to Dr. Hassan.

He said citizens need to strictly observe all preventative measures to stop the spread of the virus.

“We have no available resources to accommodate the citizens in Khartoum and even in Sudan, so keep yourself safe and be careful, take your precautions, social distance, masks and try to avoid unnecessary gatherings in crowded areas,” said Dr. Hassan.

Late last week, Sudan’s acting minister of health said the government has yet to decide whether to order a total lockdown. Hassan said Friday if the infection rate continues at the current rate, the acting minister may make that call.

“Unfortunately, right now, we may need to revise ourselves. This rising in the situation I think may end up with the lockdown, if no more treatment centers open, no more education and awareness or if they are still careless about this situation, the denial status about Corona, unfortunately we may end up with this total lockdown,” Hassan told VOA.

Former Sudanese prime minister Sadiq al-Mahdi died Thursday in the United Arab Emirates, where he was being treated for COVID-19. Al-Mahdi was laid to rest Friday morning in Omdurman, west of Khartoum.

Family sources said the former prime minister’s father- in-law, known by the single name “Sheriff,” also succumbed to the disease Thursday evening in Khartoum.