Kiir urges South Sudanese to take precautions against coronavirus

Sunday March 15 2020

South Sudan's Salva Kiir and Riek Machar.

South Sudan President Salva Kiir (centre) with Riek Machar (right) in Juba on February 20, 2020. The president has urged all citizens to avoid handshakes and hugging each other as a protective measure against Covid-19. PHOTO | PETER LOUIS | AFP 

GARANG A. MALAK
By GARANG A. MALAK
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South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir has urged all citizens to avoid handshakes and hugging each other as a protective measure against Covid-19.   

He encouraged non-physical contact but said that citizens could opt for elbow and foot bumps as greetings if they have to make physical contact.

President Kiir spoke in Juba on Friday at the funeral of the late Dr John Garang De Mabior’s brother.

MEASURES

South Sudan has not reported any coronavirus cases but neighbouring countries Kenya, Rwanda, Ethiopia and Sudan have confirmed cases.

A foreign national in Juba who had been isolated after showing signs of coronavirus was discharged on Saturday after he tested negative.

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As a precaution, the South Sudanese government announced that it has suspended direct flights to countries affected by the novel coronavirus, effective Friday midnight.

The decision included Egypt, Tunisia, Algeria, Togo, Middle East, US, Canada, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, Costa Rica, Peru, Paraguay, and some countries in Europe.

In Asia, China, Korea, Japan, Singapore, Malaysia, Australia, Philippines, Vietnam, New Zealand, Cambodia, India have been listed.

Others are Thailand, Indonesia, Maldives and Bangladesh.

The ministry also added that all travellers arriving in the country are being screened for Covid-19.

SOUTH SUDANESE DOCTORS IN CHINA

Meanwhile, seven South Sudanese doctors undergoing five months clinical training in Hefei City, Anhui Province of China, have confirmed that none of them has been infected with the coronavirus.

Speaking to The East African on the phone from China on Saturday, they assured South Sudanese that they are safe.

“We are safe…[and] the outbreak is in a different city,” Dr Oduma Kenneth said “Our activities have been reduced a little bit but that isn’t an issue.”

Other doctors said the outbreak has affected their training schedules, but they are coping well.

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