News Alert: Coronavirus Outbreak in Um Rakuba camp in Sudan

Following the confirmation of four coronavirus cases in the Um Rakuba camp, Mercy Corps calls for swift and urgent additional measures to prevent further transmission and avoid another humanitarian disaster. 

Dr Arif Noor, Mercy Corps Country Director for Sudan, says:

"The confirmation of the coronavirus cases among Um Rakuba camp residents is a matter of great concern. The area is small but with a high population density, making social distancing very difficult. We don't have sufficient PPEs to manage suspect cases. There's a shortage of water, soap and latrines so camp residents must wait hours to get water each day, in lines rarely shorter than 30 individuals long, increasing the chances of spreading the virus. 

"We're also deeply concerned about the well-being of the elderly, children, and those living with chronic medical conditions as they remain vulnerable. Although we don't know the extent of the virus' spread yet, we have all the reasons to worry.

"Our concern over a lack of preparedness at the camp to deal with a large-scale outbreak, should it happen, remains alarmingly high. We're currently ramping up efforts to deliver PPEs to the camp and enhance measures already taken to prevent further spread and save lives. 

"We call for swift and decisive action to prevent further spread of the virus and worsen the already dire humanitarian crisis. We urgently need resources and coordination among development agencies to quickly strengthen and scale up preventive measures to control the spread of COVID‑19."

Mercy Corps is running a health clinic in the Um Rakuba camp and has treated nearly 5,000 people. 

In 2020, Mercy Corps reached more than 600,000 people in Ethiopia and more than 350,000 in Sudan with humanitarian and development assistance. The Sudan country team opened an office in Gederaf state, Sudan, this year to support public health and COVID-19 prevention measures. The United Nations reports that Ethiopia's evolving situation could push an additional 1.1 million people into humanitarian need. Prior to this crisis, more than 7.7 million people in Ethiopia struggled with acute food insecurity, malnutrition and water shortages.