South Sudan’s First Vice-President Riek Machar and his wife Angelina Teny have tested positive for Covid-19.
Dr Machar revealed on Monday that he and his wife, who is also Defence Minister, had contracted the virus, reportedly after interacting with infected members of the High-Level Taskforce on Covid-19, a team drafted to help fight the pandemic.
A statement from his office said a number of his staffers including security guards also contracted the virus, although their names were not immediately published.
“We are still awaiting other tests and hopefully tomorrow, we will have the full list (of positive cases among the Taskforce),” Machar told a televised news conference on Monday in Juba.
“All our colleagues that have tested positive are in good health. From now on, we shall be quarantining ourselves in our house. A doctor may be visiting us until the they tell us it is time to end the quarantine.All our colleagues will also be self-quarantining.”
His Spokesperson James Gatdet Dak said Machar and his wife would be self-isolating at their home in Juba for the next two weeks as they manage the infection. They were both asymptomatic but “feeling well and healthy”, he said.
South Sudan was the last East African Community member state to report a covid-19 case when a UN staffer reporting to duty from abroad tested positive in April. The cases have since risen to 290 and four deaths without a reported recovery.
Strained by a seven-year civil war, South Sudan has one of the poorest health systems, even though it is the youngest in Africa. Dr Machar re-joined the Government of National Unity only in February following a peace deal signed in September 2018.
His office said he was coming forth to declare his status as part of efforts to counter panic associated with Covid-19.
Officials in his party, the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-In Opposition said he was encouraging the public to follow guidelines announced by the Taskforce he chairs, to help lower the infection rates.