South Sudan govt criticized for late discovery of COVID-19 patient

Photo: South Sudan First Vice-President and Chairman of Coronavirus Taskforce Dr. Riek Machar addressing a press conference at Juba Pyramid Hotel in Juba | Credit | Eye Radio

April 6, 2020 (Nyamilepedia) — South Sudan government has been criticized for a Sunday late discovery of a coronavirus patient who – according to the country’s coronavirus taskforce – has been in the country since late February without diagnosis.

On Sunday afternoon, South Sudan’s First Vice President and deputy chairperson of the coronavirus taskforce, Dr. Riek Machar Teny, announced during a press conference at Pyramid Juba Hotel the first case of the virus in the country.

Machar, flanked by senior government officials including the defense and health ministers, said the patient is a Dutch citizen who entered the country from Netherlands via Ethiopia on February 28 meaning the female patient has been in the country for one (1) month and one (1) week.

He said the patient was in a “stable” condition at the time and was not showing any symptoms related to the virus adding that the government and the UN mission in the country were tracing those who might have been exposed to the virus while meeting the patient.

It was unclear as to whether the patient – who is a UN staffer – was exposed to the virus following her return to South Sudan, contracted it while in the Netherlands or during her travel through the many roots of transit she might have followed to South Sudan.

However, the late government discovery has sparked criticism from the citizens including opposition figures expressing fears that many may have been exposed to the novel coronavirus also known as COVID-19.

Speaking to Nyamilepedia on Monday from Nairobi, Kenya, Oyay Deng Ajak, a senior opposition member of the Real-SPLM let NY Pagan Amum, said the testing system in the country is not credible given the lack of modern testing kits.

“First I don’t think that the government have the latest equipments for testing. Secondly they reacted very late. While the cases were announced in the neighbour countries, the government was allowing in fights from those countries even from Emirates,” he said.

David Lual, the spokesman of the National Democratic Movement (NDM) led by Dr. Lam Akol Ajawin said from Juba that the late discovery may mean the government had no enough diagnostic equipment put in place to monitor entrance – to the country – of potential carriers of the virus.

“The patient who is said to be the first confirmed positive case was discovered very late and that means there were no strict testing measures put in place at the points of entry into the country,” he said.

“In this case I think the Government was so negligent for not taking serious health precautionary measures against the disease, the exceptions that were made by the task force are clear violations of their own orders,” he added.

Emannuel Ajawin, a holdout leader of a NDM faction and member of the South Sudan Opposition Movements Alliance (SSOMA), said from the US that the late discovery is a cause of concerns to the people of South Sudan.

“The fact that the suspect person who tested positive, entered the country since 28/2 is a concern to the people of South Sudan,” he told the Nyamilepedia.

“Due to the corruption that has become norm and culture under the Juba dictatorial regime our hospitals are not to the modern standard to cope with such an outbreak,” he added.

He further concluded by saying: “At this critical moment we pray that the virus has not spread to the level that will kill innocent civilians in the country. Our hearts are with the downtrodden people of south Sudan in this difficult time of coronavirus pandemic.”

Clara Martin, a US-based activist told the Nyamilepedia separately that the government of South Sudan was not working as they should to contain the spread of the virus saying she always question that – until Sunday – there were no cases in South Sudan.

“They never take things seriously they are late in everything especially [the] Coronavirus situation. I have been saying ‘are they sure that there is no COVID-19,'” she said.

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