South Sudan has confirmed the first case of COVID-19, according to the first Vice President, Mr Riek Machar.
Addressing journalists at Pyramid Hotel in Juba today (Sunday), Mr Machar said the case is the first in the country since the outbreak of COVID-19 in China in December last year.
The vice president said the 29-year-old female patient arrived in the country via Ethiopia from Netherlands on February 28 and had for that long been isolated.
“The patient had no history of underlying or pre-existing illness,” he said.
Mr Machar, who also deputises the head of the COVID-19 taskforce, said the Ministry of Health would trace all the possible contacts of the patient since her arrival in Juba.
He advised the people in South Sudan to observe the instructions from the health ministry like washing hands with soap or sanitisers regularly and avoiding large gatherings.
The vice president said all restaurants will remain open but offering only takeaway services. However, he said that shops selling non-food items must remain closed.
The government directed that all funeral gatherings must be limited to less than five people.
The United Nations in South Sudan said it has confirmed a case of COVID-19 among its staff.
In a statement to the press, the United Nations said that the Ministry of Health and the World Health Organization (WHO) are leading the investigation by epidemiologists to test people who were in contact with the patient recently in accordance with agreed protocols.
“The patient has been resident in South Sudan for five weeks. She started working from home immediately after the onset of the symptoms and voluntarily requested to be tested to check her status with regard to COVID-19. The patient is recovering well”.
The UN has previously imposed a travel freeze on all staff travelling into the country, ensured staff who arrived prior to the ban are self-quarantined for 14 days, introduced work-from-home measures to reduce numbers of people in offices, and enforced social distancing rules and frequent hand washing by all personnel.
South Sudanese have been expressing concerns about the country’s ability to handle a potential spread of the new virus.