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Sudan: Polio Outbreak - Aug 2020

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The Federal Ministry of Health (FMoH) declared, on 9 August, an outbreak of polio in Sudan, following the confirmation of two cases of vaccine-derived poliovirus in South Darfur and Gedaref states. While laboratory tests are still ongoing, positive environmental samples of poliovirus type 2 have also been found in seven more states, including West Darfur, East Darfur, Gezira, White Nile, River Nile, Khartoum and Red Sea, indicating a possible wide circulation of the virus within the country. At least 5.2 million children under age 5 live in the affected states and will require urgent vaccination. The outbreak, the first since March 2009, has been considered by the authorities as a national emergency and response has been activated to tackle the high risk of transmissions within and beyond Sudan, including South Sudan, declared by WHO as polio-free just a month ago. Neighbouring Ethiopia, Central African Republic and Chad also reported cases, which puts more risks on Sudan, especially in the Darfur region, due to border movements. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and current floods in Sudan will likely increase the challenges for Government and humanitarian partners to contain the new outbreak. The FMoH and health partners have already activated the urgent response to the outbreak. The FMoH briefed the Cabinet of Ministers on 8 August and declared the outbreak one day later, following the protocols of the International Health Regulations. Risk assessments have already been completed, while a National Task Force committee is being currently established. Government and health partners, led by WHO, are in close contact with neighbouring countries to coordinate efforts. (OCHA, 14 Aug 2020)

In total, 39 cases (3 cases confirmed by positive contacts) across 13 states have been confirmed in Sudan since the beginning of the outbreak. A total number of infected localities (districts) is 33. The cases have onset of paralysis between 7 March 2020 and 3 September 2020. (UNICEF WHO, 11 Nov 2020)