10 South Sudan ministers test positive for Covid-19

Saturday May 23 2020

The ex-rebel leader Riek Machar, center, and

The ex-rebel leader Riek Machar, center, and President Salva Kiir of South Sudan, left, at a news conference in Juba on Thursday.Credit         AFP 


 Juba. 10 of South Sudan’s cabinet ministers tested positive for the coro-navirus, according to the Minister of Information Michael Makuei who spoke to the BBC.
The ministers had come into contact with a former member of the high-level task force on coronavirus.
The Minister of Health is the only former member of the team not to contract the disease.The South Sudanese government said the ministers are in good health after they placed themselves under self-quarantine.
Makuei, himself, has tested positive for Covid-19 but is asymptomatic, according to a report by The East African.
Makuei also dismissed reports that President Salva Kiir, who was also a member of the task force, had been infected with the disease.
First Vice President Riek Machar, his wife Angelina Teny and a number of his staff and bodyguards tested positive for Covid-19 after samples were tested on May 13.
Machar’s press secretary said that he would self-quarantine in his residence for the next 14 days.South Sudan, which already has a struggling healthcare system, has so far reported 481 confirmed Covid-19 cases. Experts worry that decades of conflict has left South Sudan inca-pable of dealing with a surge in new infections.
So far South Sudan has recorded 236 cases of Covid-19 and four deaths.Last week, the authorities announced the virus had reached a UN refugee camp in the capital, Juba, where some 30,000 people have sought  shelter and protection.
A case has also been confirmed in a similar camp in northern Bentiu, home to almost 120,000 people, the AFP news agency reports.
QuarantineMr Machar said that a member of the Covid-19 task force tested posi-tive for coronavirus last week.As that person had been “mixing” with the rest of the team, he decided that everyone on the task force be tested.
“Many of our colleagues who have been found positive are in good health... from now onwards we shall be quarantining ourselves in the house,” Mr Machar said.
Mr Machar formed a joint government with his political rival President Salva Kiir in February after years of conflict which has resulted in hundreds being killed and thousands being displaced.
As part of the power-sharing deal, Mr Machar, is ranked first among four vice-presidents serving as deputy leaders to Mr Kiir.
Apart from dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic, South Sudan has also been named among countries most at risk of what the UN World Food Programme (WFP) calls a “hunger pandemic”.
The WFP says that hunger and malnutrition in the country are at the most extreme levels since 2011, with almost 60 per cent of the population struggling to find food every day.
Making the situation worse, swarms of locusts which had destroyed crops across East Africa arrived in South Sudan earlier this year. (CGTN)