President Salva Kiir’s rival and Vice-President Riek Machar’s wife infected with Covid-19
Mr. Machar formed a unity government with his political rival, President Salva Kiir in February 2020 after years of fighting which has resulted in the death and displacement of over one thousand persons.
As part of the power-sharing agreement, Mr. Machar, is rated first among four vice-presidents serving as deputy leaders to Mr. Kiir.
BBC News reported that South Sudan’s Vice-President, Riek Machar, a member of the taskforce set up to fight coronavirus in the country, is in self-isolation after contracting the virus.
Reik Machar stated that because several other persons working in the taskforce have contracted the deadly virus, a newer team would be set up to continue with the work.
Also, the Vice President’s wife, Angelina Teny, who serves as Defence Minister, some security personnel and a couple of other staff have tested positive with the virus.
Also, Al Jazeera News confirms that Riek Machar, South Sudan’s former warlord and first vice president, has tested positive for coronavirus.
According to a statement posted on Monday on the office’s Facebook page and attributed to press secretary, James Gatdek Dak, Machar’s wife, Minister of Defence Angelina Teny, and a number of his office staff and bodyguards have also been confirmed positive.
As expected, Machar has issued a public statement declaring that he is positive. And as a result, he would self-quarantine in his residence.
According to the latest figures from the Ministry of Health released on Monday, South Sudan has recorded 339 cases of coronavirus infection and 6 deaths.
Both Kiir and Machar remain deadlocked on critical issues such as the control of regional states.
Also according to Reuters, South Sudan’s Vice President Riek Machar said on state television that he would be in self-isolation for 14 days in his residence.
South Sudan Battling Covid-19 alongside Food Scarcity
Observers are disturbed because more than 10 years of war has left South Sudan incapable of dealing with an epidemic, let alone any surge in new infections.
Apart from combating the coronavirus pandemic, the UN World Food Programme (WFP) identifies South Sudan as among countries facing a high degree food scarcity problem in the world.
The report says the World Food Programme notes hunger and malnutrition in South Sudan are at such extreme levels since 2011, with more than 50% of the population struggling to find food daily.
A swarm of locusts which had infested crops across East Africa have recently arrived in South Sudan complicating the fight against coronavirus spread.
Last week, officials declared two cases in a refugee camp accommodating roughly 30,000 displaced people who have been seeking United Nations protection in Juba for 7 years.
The country continues to be gripped by humanitarian emergency and acute hunger, even after Machar and President Salva Kiir, the main rivals in the civil war, formed a unity government in February.
Coronavirus Infection in Refugee Camps
AFP News Agency reports that a case has also been confirmed in yet another refugee camp in northern Bentiu, home to almost 120,000 people.
A week before, the authorities declared the virus had been reported in a United Nations refugee camp in Juba, where about 30,000 persons are seeking shelter and protection.
Last week authorities reported two COVID-19 cases in a camp outside Juba, raising concerns among humanitarians that the infection could devastate the overcrowded settlement.
So far, South Sudan has identified more than 200 coronavirus cases and 4 deaths.
James Reynolds, from the International Committee of the Red Cross in South Sudan, said in a statement that observers are particularly concerned that there have been a couple of cases of coronavirus infection within the camp in Juba because the refugee camp houses thousands of displaced persons living in quite cramped conditions.
He added that measures such as social distancing and regular hand washing would be difficult to follow in the refugee camp.
Although the coronavirus infection rate in South Sudan appears low, aid agencies are raising the alarm over a notable increase in cases within some days.