JUBA: Riek Machar, South Sudan’s former rebel leader and its first vice president, has tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.
According to the statement, the vice president will self-quarantine for two weeks. Some office workers and bodyguards also tested positive, it added.
“I want to declare that, I, the deputy chair of the high-level task force has been tested [For COVID-19] and found positive. There are other members who are also tested and found positive. I can only say at this stage that Madam Angelina Teny, the minister of Defense and Veteran Affairs is also found positive,” Machar announced in a televised address to the nation.
South Sudan, which is emerging from a devastating six-year civil war, has so far recorded 339 cases of COVID-19 and six deaths, according to the latest figures from the health ministry, also released on Monday.
Though the number is relatively low, aid agencies are sounding the alarm over a sharp rise in cases in recent days.
Teny, until last week, was the deputy chairman of the country’s high-level task force for COVID-19. Elizabeth Acuai Yor, South Sudan’s minister of Health and chairperson for the task force, took a test for the disease last week. Machar said she tested negative.
“Fortunately, the minister of Health is not among us who have been found positive. She tested the day before we took the test and she was found negative,” Machar said.
Machar and his wife are the first senior government officials in South Sudan who tested positive for COVID-19 and have come out to speak about their test results.
The virus has sickened 4.8 million people and killed more than 318,000 worldwide.