This bi-weekly bulletin is designed for journalists in South Sudan reporting on the COVID-19 epidemic, and other related health and development challenges. It contains practical tips for reporting, provides verified information about public health measures of the Ministry of Health and partners, and gathers trustworthy media (re)sources for media partners. It also shares citizen concerns on COVID-19 and the humanitarian response.
Persistent misinformation and concerns
South Sudan continues to see a rise in the number of confirmed cases, with 2,555 confirmed cases, 1,317 recoveries, and 48 deaths, as of 14 September 2020 (Source: Ministry of Health).
Journalists in South Sudan report that misinformation and rumors around the COVID-19 outbreak and response mechanisms remain frequent. Some of the most persistent concerns include that “black people can’t get COVID-19”, that alcohol, herbal tea and onions can prevent people from getting ill with COVID-19, and that - which is highly relevant due to flooding across the country - “rain and flooding washed away COVID-19”. One third of all 150 unique feedback data points that Internews and partners collected across the country in the first half of September, contained misperceptions about COVID-19 and the response.
In the weekly COVID-19 situation report from 17-23 August the Ministry of Health in South Sudan reports that only 24 percent – which is roughly one in three cases - reported the typical signs and symptoms of COVID-19 (Source: Ministry of Health). This means that many people don’t show signs and symptoms of COVID-19 and may not notice that they are ill. As such, they can still spread the virus, as they don’t know they are ill. Doctors call such patients “asymptomatic cases” (Source: WHO). Normally, when people get sick from the coronavirus, it takes on average 5-14 days to develop symptoms that can range from mild to extremely dangerous (Source: Conversation).
Health officials don’t know yet how much of the COVID-19 has been spread worldwide by asymptomatic patients. However, reports from some countries suggest that asymptomatically infected individuals are much less likely to transmit the virus than those who develop symptoms (Source: WHO). It is always smart to always wear a mask when in public spaces and to wash your hands frequently with soap and water. See more from IFRC’s Dr.