May 20: President writes to VP
President Salva Kiir has officially written to his first Vice-President Riek Machar after reports emerged that he had been infected with COVID-19.
The May 20 letter read in part: “It is my hope and prayer that each new day brings Your Excellency and the rest of our comrades closer to a full and speedy recovery.
“I want to personally encourage you and the rest of our colleagues to go through this with courage and zeal needed to win the battle. We know that the pandemic is relentless but we will pull through,” it added.
#SouthSudan’s President Salva Kiir writes a get well soon letter to his Vice President Riek Machar, Defence Minister and other members of the country’s former high level #Covid19 task force who tested positive for #Covid19. pic.twitter.com/OLBnhP1lKa— Rachael Akidi (@rakidi) May 21, 2020
Kiir applauded Machar for opting to go into self-quarantine. He was infected along with his wife Angelina Teny who is also defense minister. A number of aides also tested positive.
“Take good time to rest and fight off this disease naturally. You will be in my daily prayers,” the statement concluded.
May 18 : South Sudan VP, Defense Minister infected
South Sudan’s Vice President Riek Machar has contracted coronavirus, his office confirmed on Monday, May 18. He is the vice-chairperson of the COVID-19 Task Force in the country.
His wife Angelina Teny, who serves as defence minister, “a number of his office staff and bodyguards” also tested positive for the virus, the office further disclosed.
Machar later stated on state television that he would be in self-isolation for 14 days in his residence.
The discovery last week of two COVID-19 cases in a crowded camp outside the capital Juba, raised concerns among humanitarian groups of the possible devastating effect on the settlement.
“We are particularly concerned that there have been a couple of cases that tested positive in the camp here just outside Juba. There are tens of thousands of internally displaced persons living there, so they live in quite cramped conditions,” James Reynolds, from the International Committee of the Red Cross in South Sudan, said in a statement.
April 1 : Virus-free South Sudan reports paltry tests
South Sudan, one of five virus-free African countries, says it has carried out 18 tests for the COVID-19 since the outbreak of the pandemic.
A March 31, 2020 statement from the office of the first vice-president confirmed that the country had no case of coronavirus. The same day that Burundi confirmed an index case leaving South Sudan as the only East African country uninfected.
“The High Level Taskforce would like to inform the general public that all the 18 samples collected since the outbreak of COVID-19, have tested negative for COVID-19 by Polymerase chain reaction (PCR).”
The statement went on to caution against the spread of rumors about an infection in the country. “I am urging people to ignore circulating rumours about the outbreak of the deadly virus in the country.
“People should not panic and be scared of the rumours being spread by social and local media,” the statement added. Rwanda has the highest infection rate on mainland East and Horn of Africa region with 75 cases with the lowest being Burundi’s two cases. Mauritius, however, has 175 cases as of March 31.
Previously, some experts had expressed doubts about South Sudan’s prolonged no case citing that the country could have failed to detect cases due to lack of capacity. Across Africa, South Africa has run over 40,000 cases and has recorded over 1,300 cases.
In mid-March this year, South Sudan suspended flights from countries affected by coronavirus, including Egypt and United Arab Emirates. On 25 March, President Salva Kiir issued an order imposing a night-time curfew, as part preventive measures against coronavirus. The measure started on March 26.
Interior Minister Paul Mayom Akec announced the measure stressing that the populace were expected to stay home from 8pm until 6am across South Sudan until further notice.
Akec further said health conditions requiring movements of ambulances, broadcast journalists on duty and network operators on duty would be exempted. “The order is in compliance of the republican order issued by the President for the protection of the citizens of South Sudan from the health risk of COVID-19,” he explained.