JUBA – South Sudan said on Thursday it had registered its first COVID-19 death, according to a statement from the president’s office, although the identity and other details of the victim were not given.
On Wednesday, a senior army general died of the virus in the capital Juba days after contracting the virus locally.
As of Thursday the young African country had recorded a total of 231 cases of COVID-19, the disease the virus causes, and the UN said on Tuesday that infections had for the first time been detected in a heavily crowded civilian protection site in the capital Juba.
Army General dies of coronavirus in Juba
Gen. John Madeng Gatduel, the head of South Sudan logistics at Bilpam has died this evening in the South Sudanese capital Juba, family members and close friends have confirmed to Sudans Post.
One family member said from Juba that General John Madeng Gatduel died on Wednesday evening days after contracting COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, at the military hospital next to the University of Juba.
“It is with sad heart to confirm that Brig. Gen. John Madeng Gatduel died today at around 4PM due to coronavirus. He died at the military hospital near Jebel Market,” the family members said.
Mandeng’s death comes a few hours after another army general died in the Sudanese capital Kharoum. Lt. Gen, Liah Diu Deng died after many years of sickness.
COVID-19 cases rises with an alarming speed
Coronavirus cases in South Sudan on Wednesday surpassed the 200 line and rised by 28 to 231 on Thursday, the country’s taskforce on COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, announced.
In a press statement seen by Sudans Post, the taskforce said a total of 9 positive cases were registered on Monday Wednesday after the public health laboratory in Juba tested 108 samples.
This, the taskforce said, brings the overall number of coronavirus cases in South Sudan to 203.
“Of the confirmed cases, contact was one, three alerts, one suspect and four from Juba zones,” the taskforce explained.
It added that three of all confirmed cases were males while females counted for six cases with overall age range between 18 and 62 years.
The taskforce commended the sacrifices of health workforce and other front-line workers in fighting COVID-19 pandemic and urged the finance ministry to avail funds needed for incentivizing health and front-line workers.
The increase in coronavirus cases in South Sudan comes days after the government eased restrictions which were imposed as part of measures to help control the spread of the virus in the country.
The announcement to open up the airspace on Tuesday, May 12, was made in line with the directives by the presidency to ease coronavirus preventive measures.
In March, the government suspended all flights and closed borders to prevent the spread of the disease.
But last week, President Kiir and his deputies resolved to allow all travels and trade, open bars and other businesses.
Since the lifting of restrictions on 8 May, South Sudan has recorded 54 more cases in less than 4 days.
UN reports first infections at highly-populated camps
As directives from South Sudan president, Salva Kiir, South Sudan Civil Aviation Authority (SSCAA) has reopened the South Sudan airports.
The SSCAA said South Sudan airports will now on be reopened to domestic and international flights despite the sharp increase in COVID-19 cases.
But the civil aviation says they will comply with the directives as issued by the Presidency.
“The airspace of South Sudan is now open for operations [for] all airlines, domestically, regionally and internationally,” said David Subek, CEO, on Monday.
“So, I am just here to announce to the airline operators to send the message to other airlines or to their head offices that, our airspace is already opened for operations.”
The Secretary-General of South Sudan Airline Operators Union, Gabriel Ngang urged those intending to use the airlines to remain cautious of the COVID-19 virus.
“I want to advise our citizens that before you buy the ticket, you make sure that you read the guidelines and this guidelines we are going to give it to all our booking centers,” Ngang stressed.
However, some members of the public and human rights activists have voiced concern about the easing of COVID-19 restrictions.
On Sunday, An activist has warned that South Sudan risks a full-blown coronavirus outbreak if it continues with what he describes as reckless decisions by the government.
On Sunday, Executive Director of the Foundation for Development and Accountable Governance – Jame Kolol – said the decision was reckless, adding that South Sudan risks a full-blown coronavirus outbreak
Besides, regional countries, including Uganda and Kenya are yet to lift travel bans