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Homeland Security

Sudan Sees First Death From Coronavirus

By Naba Mohiedeen March 13, 2020

Sudan's health ministry has reported the country's first coronavirus death: A 52-year-old man who had traveled from the United Arab Emirates died Thursday.

The ministry urged people to take measures to stop the spread of coronavirus, such as frequently washing their hands with soap, and to notify authorities if they see any suspected cases.

Bus service to and from Egypt was stopped, and authorities suspended all flights to eight countries affected by the virus. Mohamed al-Mahdi, Khartoum airport's director of information, said the airport administration also issued a decision to receive only one flight from foreign countries coming to Khartoum.

The move left hundreds of travelers stranded at airports.

Rashid Omer, who was planning to fly to Egypt to pick up goods for his business, was stuck at the Khartoum airport Friday.

He was surprised by the decision to cancel flights, saying he didn't know when the flights would resume.

Sudan imports many items from Egypt and China, and the flight ban may increase scarcity in Sudanese markets and drive up prices.

Health Minister Akram al-Tom said his ministry was demanding funds from Sudan's ruling body, the Sovereign Council, to properly combat the virus.

Al-Tom said his office had submitted recommendations to stringently watch crossings and to extend shelters for housing and isolation. In addition, he said, funds should be obtained to distribute qualified health staff to various states.

Dr. Mohamed Abdallah welcomed the preparation, but feared the coronavirus would overwhelm Sudan's health care system.

While he said the decision was a bit late, he added that "it's important to decrease the possible cases."

More than 140 Sudanese students who were stuck in China's Wuhan province have been evacuated to the United Arab Emirates, to be monitored for several weeks before they can return to Sudan.

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