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South Sudan Vice President Tests Positive for Coronavirus

FILE - South Sudanese Vice President James Wani Igga speaks to reporters.
FILE - South Sudanese Vice President James Wani Igga speaks to reporters.

South Sudan’s longtime vice president has tested positive for the coronavirus.

James Wani Igga said on the state-owned South Sudan Broadcasting Corp. that his test results had come back positive.

“My samples [were] taken for testing a few days ago and today it has been found positive for corona," he said. "And so, I encourage all South Sudanese to really go for testing. This is very important so that we stop the spread of this pandemic to more people.’’

Igga was the fifth senior South Sudanese official to test positive for the coronavirus.

The newly appointed chairman of South Sudan's reconstituted National Committee on COVID-19, Fifth Vice President Hussein Abdelbagi, tested positive last week.

First Vice President Riek Machar Teny and his wife, Minister of Defense Angelina Teny, tested positive two weeks ago.

The South Sudan government’s spokesperson, Michael Makuei, said on May 20 that he and all those on the nation’s 15-member coronavirus task force had tested positive for the virus.

'Wear it properly'

Dr. Anthony Garang, acting chairman of the South Sudan Doctors’ Union, said many South Sudanese, including the task force members, were contracting the virus because they refused to follow preventive measures, such as wearing face masks.

“Using the masks has its own ways. It does not mean that when you are wearing a mask, that is it. You need to wear it properly," Garang said. "You need to put it on properly. And once you put it on, you need to make sure you don’t remove it, you don’t touch it with your hands and touch other parts of your body with it. That is one particular thing that was missed. People could wear a mask, and when they want to talk, they pull it down and they talk. Then, they put it back and they don’t immediately wash,” Garang said.

South Sudan Health Minister Elizabeth Acuei Yol replaced Dr. Angok Gordon Kuol, the country’s coronavirus incident manager, on Wednesday and appointed Dr. Richard Lino Lako as the new incident manager. There were no reasons given for this shuffle.

In mid-May, South Sudan health officials announced the country’s first death from COVID-19. A top health official described the deceased as a 51-year-old "high-profile South Sudanese."

The person had arrived at a military hospital in Juba in critical condition, according to Health Ministry Undersecretary Dr. Makur Matur Koriom, who is also a member of South Sudan’s High-Level Taskforce for COVID-19.

South Sudan has registered 994 COVID-19 cases, six recoveries and 10 deaths.

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    John Tanza

    John Tanza works out of VOA’s Washington headquarters and is the managing editor and host of the South Sudan In Focus radio program.