South Sudan schools are set to reopen almost seven months after they were made to shut down as part of the government’s measures to contain the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, reported CGTN Africa.
In an interview with the East African, South Sudan’s Information minister Michael Makuei said the decision to reopen schools had been taken after a comprehensive study by the National Taskforce on Covid-19.
Makuei said the report has found that the level of infection has reduced and there no more cases have been reported in the last few weeks.
“After that study, it was decided that schools and higher learning institutions should re-open at times to be fixed by the General and Higher Education ministries. The guidelines to be followed will be issued by the concerned ministries,” the South Sudanese health minister said.
A number of international aid organizations urged the government in July to reopen schools warning that children face a number of problems as schools are closed. The dangers included early pregnancies, child labor, recruitment into illegal groups and mental anguish.
UNICEF and UNESCO had also issued a joint statement in which they argued that children and schools were not the predominant drivers of the spread of the pandemic.
At the time, Ministry of Health spokesman Dr. Thuoi Loi said it was unclear when the virus will be under control and children can safely return to school.
South Sudan’s health minister also said restrictions on working hours had been lifted and that offices will now open from 8am to 5pm starting next week. The government has previously faced criticism for relaxing restrictions despite in COVID-19 cases. Some of the previous easing of restrictions included reduction of the curfew period, resumption of regional flights and the reopening of markets, shops and bars.
South Sudan has reported over 500 confirmed cases of the coronavirus so far, including more than 45 deaths and more than 1,200 recoveries.