Dr. Riek Machar, wife recovers from COVID-19 – James Gatdet Dak

Photo: South Sudan's First Vice president Dr. Riek Machar, right, and his wife Angelina Teny while taking oath of office in February

Photo: South Sudan’s First Vice president Dr. Riek Machar, right, and his wife Angelina Teny while taking oath of office in February

JUBA – South Sudan First Vice-President Dr. Riek Machar Teny and his wife Angelina Teny, the minister of defense, have recovered from the coronavirus and are due to return to their offices next week, a spokesman for the first vice president said this morning.

Machar and Teny tested positive for the COVID-19, the disease that is associated with the novel coronavirus, in May and said they were going into self-quarantine as recommended by the world health organization.

In a statement this morning, Machar’s office announced that the two have recovered after a second test for the virus – since the first positive test – returned positive.

“The second COVID-19 testing has returned NEGATIVE for both the First Vice President, H.E. Dr. Riek Machar Teny-Dhurgon, and the Minister of Defense and Veterans Affairs, H.E. Madam Angelina Teny,” it said.

The statement signed by James Gatdet Dak, the spokesman for Dr. Riek Machar Teny, said the second test was conducted on June 1 and returned yesterday.

He said the two senior government officials will take another five-day before eventually returning to work on June 11 next week.

“This second test was conducted on Monday, 1 June, 2020, and the result came out on Thursday, 4 June, 2020. The two leaders are in good health and ready to resume their public duties,” it said.

“In accordance with the new general criteria from the Ministry of Health, the two officials are required to remain in their residence for 10 more days from 1 June 2020 up to 10 June, 2020. They are therefore expected to resume their normal official duties by Thursday, 11 June, 2020,” the statement added.

Minister John Luk Jok dies of COVID-19 in Juba – aide

Photo: South Sudan East African Affairs Minister John Luk Jok speaks at a joint press conference by seven of South Sudan's former political prisoners on February 13, 2014 in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa. [Getty Images]

Photo: South Sudan East African Affairs Minister John Luk Jok speaks at a joint press conference by seven of South Sudan’s former political prisoners on February 13, 2014 in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa. [Getty Images]

JUBA – South Sudan minister of East African Affairs and former Justice minister John Luk Jok, has died this morning of the deadly coronavirus disease also known as COVID-19, his aides said from Juba this morning.

“This is to inform you that the minister for East African Affairs John Luk jok has died of COVID-19,” one aide told Sudans Post from Juba.

“He refused to be taken to the hospital. He was given medicins about two weeks ago and he said he will be taking the medicines from home,” the aided added.

John Luk Jok has served as South Sudan minister of justice right following the independence in July 2011.

He served under that capacity until Kiir sacked his entire cabinet in July 2013 leading up to the outbreak of war in December that year.

He was detained and then released in April 2014 and fled to exile in Kenya and returned to the country in 2016 as a part of a 2015 peace agreement to serve as the transport minister on thew ticket of the SPLM former detainees.

John Luk Jok served under that capacity until the dissolution of the government in February 2020 and was appointed as the minister of East African Affairs.

South Sudan vice-president James Wani Igga flown to Egypt over COVID-19 symptoms

Photo: South Sudan Vice-president James Wani Igga meeting Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisis in Cairo

Photo: South Sudan Vice-president James Wani Igga meeting Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisis in Cairo

JUBA – South Sudan vice-president James Wani Igga has been flown to the Egyptian capital Cairo for “intensive” medical care over COVID-19 symptoms, a office staffer for him said this evening.

Igga said last week that he had been tested positive for COVID-19.

“The vice president James Wani Igga has been flown to Egypt this afternoon, Monday, June 1, 2020. He has been suffering from coronavirus since he was diagnosed for the  virus one last week,” the office staffer who refused to be named told Sudans Post from Juba.

There are speculations that many other senior South Sudan government officials – rather than the already known – are suffering from the deadly virus.

Beside James Wani Igga, other senior government officials including First Vice-President Dr. Riek Machar, vice-president Hussein Abdelbaggi as well as ministers of information and defense have tested positive for coronavirus.

COVID-19 is the respiratory sickness caused by the novel coronavirus.

South Sudan cases jumped last week to 994. Eight (8) people have recovered while ten (10) have died.

Taban Deng to become head of COVID-19 taskforce

File: South Sudan's First Vice President Taban Deng Gai

File: South Sudan’s First Vice President Taban Deng Gai

JUBA – South Sudan’s vice-president Taban Deng Gai will replace vice-president Hussein Abdel Baggi as the chair of the country’s national taskforce on coronavirus, a government official with direct knowledge has said.

This comes after Abdelbaggi who replaced First Vice President Riek Machar tested positive for the novel coronavirus. Machar is himself COVID-19 positive.

Speaking to Sudans Post this evening, a government official said from Juba that Taban will be appointed by president Salva Kiir to lead the fight against the virus but said he was being consulted on the matter.

“H.E Taban Deng Gai will be appointed by the president to head the taskforce. Hussein is a COVID-19 positive and as such he can not lead the fight,” the official said from Juba.

“Consultations with him are ongoing and once they are finished, he will be appointed,” the official added.

VP Wani Igga tests positive as increase in COVID-19 cases alarms

Photo: South Sudan vice-president James Wani Igga

Photo: South Sudan vice-president James Wani Igga

JUBA – South Sudan’s Vice President James Wani Igga, entire office staff and family members have tested positive for coronavirus, becoming the third vice-president and the fifth member of the government to catch the respiratory disease.

“My samples were taken for testing a few days ago and today it has been found positive for corona,” Igga said.

“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,” further said Wani Igga.

Beside Wani Igga, South Sudan’s First Vice-President Dr. Riek Machar, his wife and Defence Minister Angelina Teny were the first to be tested positive, followed by Information Minister Michael Makuei and recently Vice-President Hussein Abdelbagi tested positive.

Health Minister Elizabeth Achuei on Saturday disclosed after meeting President Salva Kiir she had requested him to impose a lockdown in the country. She added the measure is needed to contain the coronavirus spread in the country.

South Sudan’s Inspector General of Police Gen Majak Akech Malok also met with President Kiir on Saturday. After the meeting, he urged South Sudanese to stay home and avoid crowded are.

“If the citizens don’t observe and abide by the preventive measures then the police will take the responsibility to ensure that people respect the orders of preventive measures,” he warned.

VP Hussein Abdelbaggi tests positive for coronavirus

Before James Wani Igga, Vice-president Hussein Abdelbaggi who represents the South Sudan Opposition Alliance and announced last week that he had tested positive for the deadly virus.

“It is true the vice-president has been found with coronavirus,” a government official told Sudans Post from the capital Juba.

“There are also a number of government officials inside the high-level taskforce who have tested positive for the coronavirus,” the official added.

Sharp increase in case

The infection of James Wani Igga comes as cases sees sharp increase. The ministry of health said a few days ago that coronavirus cases in South Sudan had hiked by 188 to become 994.

VP Hussein Abdelbagi tests positive for coronavirus

Photo: South Sudan vice-president Hussein Abdelbagi

Photo: South Sudan vice-president Hussein Abdelbagi

JUBA – Hussein Abdelbagi, South Sudan’s vice-president and the chairman of the coronavirus taskforce committee has tested positive for COVID-19, officials close to him said this evening.

This comes after the coronavirus cases rose by 188 to 1004 today.

Speaking to Sudans Post moments ago, a government official who is also among those working in the taskforce said Abdelbagi tested positive today.

“It is true the vice-president has been found with coronavirus,” the official said from Juba.

“There are also a number of government officials inside the high-level taskforce who have tested positive for the coronavirus,” the official added.

S. Sudan president Salva Kiir says death “has no friend, even 1”

Photo: South Sudan President Salva Kiir

Photo: South Sudan President Salva Kiir

JUBA – President Salva Kiir of South Sudan has said that death “has no friend” after a week of speculations that he has died of the coronavirus disease also known as COVID-19.

“I have just called for this press briefing to come and update you on status of COVID-19 and the operational challenges that have been posed by the pandemic. There is a serious need to remain cautious and observe health guidelines set out by the Ministry of Health in order to control the spread of the pandemic,” the South Sudan president said.

“The whole world is struggling to contain the pandemic and South Sudan should be extra cautious in ensuring that we do not reach the levels we have seen in other countries. Our Health system may not be able to withstand overwhelming emergencies we have witnessed in other countries if things get worse. The Ministry of Health together with the National Task Force on COVID-19 has been tirelessly working around the clock to continue testing despite their limited operational capacity.” Kiir added.

“We now have over 600 active cases of COVID-19 and if we are not careful enough, then such numbers will shoot up and we will be in very deplorable state as country to contain it. Your government has been reaching out to friendly countries, though struggling with their own, to assist in any way possible with protective health equipment as we combat this pandemic.

“I am once again urging all the citizens specially those residing in densely populated areas like cities and towns to keenly observe the rules of social distancing, wearing of face masks and regular hand washing. Please stay at home instead of congregating at tea stalls throughout the day. This is where the virus spread and by staying home, you would have assisted in controlling the spread of the virus. Your leadership of the country is observing this seriously. You have heard that some of our colleagues in the government have been tested positive of COVID-19 and they have adherently quarantined themselves. We also want you to do the same even if you are not infected.

“Lastly, I want to urge all of you to refocus your energies to the fight against Coronavirus pandemic and leave futile politicking and helpless propaganda for now. The disease we are fighting does not differentiate whether this is a Muslim or Christian, Dinka or Acholi, SPLM or SPLM-IO and therefore this is the unforgiving monster in the room. There has never been any reassignment of duties of the President. The Public should not delve into propaganda,” President Salva Kiir further concluded.

Japanese embassy in South Sudan denies donating ridiculous virus protective cards to Kiir’s office

Photo: "Virus shut out" cards said to have been donated by the Japanese Embassy in South Sudan to the office of the president

Photo: “Virus shut out” cards said to have been donated by the Japanese Embassy in South Sudan to the office of the president

JUBA – The Japanese embassy in South Sudan has this afternoon denied reports that it donated virus prevention cards to President Salva Kiir and his aides.

Yesterday, the Press Secretary in the Office of the President told Eye Radio that the unproven virus prevention cards were offered to Kiir by the Prime Minister of Japan, Shinzo Abe.

This is after pictures of President Kiir, the Minister in the Office of the President, Mayiik Ayii and Information Minister, Michael Makuei, were circulated online showing the officials wearing the blue card.

Ateny Wek Wek admitted the Japanese-made card reportedly keeps the virus away from the President and some of his ministers.

He said the devices were donated by Prime Minister Abe in March through the Japanese embassy in South Sudan, but only arrived in Juba recently -specifically for the leadership; the President and those around him.

“Well, these were donations from the Prime Minister of Japan last month to the President of the Republic of South Sudan but they arrived just this week,” Ateny Wek Ateny affirmed.

But in a statement seen by Sudans Post, the Japanese in Embassy in South Sudan refuted the claims saying the government of Japan did NOT donate virus prevention cards to President Kiir and others in the government.

“The Embassy of Japan in the Republic of South Sudan strongly denies the announcement made by the Press Secretary in the Office of the President yesterday concerning the donation [of] the virus prevention card from Prime Minister Abe to President Kiir and other ministers,” the statement read.

The Japanese embassy in South Sudan went on to wonder why Ateny would make public information that it described as “wrong.”

“There is no fact that the government of Japan has donated such cards to the leadership of the government of South Sudan and we regret that the Office of the President made [such] public announcement,” the Japanese embassy in South Sudan concluded.

The unproven virus prevention card -known as “Virus Shut Out” purportedly kills viruses before you inhale it.

It is said to contain Chlorine Dioxide generating agent such as sodium chlorite and natural zeolite.

According to Japanese companies, the card and a mat release a low concentration of airborne chlorine dioxide to eliminate germs and viruses in the surrounding air.

They claim wearing the device around the neck creates a barrier against germs and viruses, especially in workplaces, public transport, and any other crowded space where airborne germs and viruses are a risk.

South Sudan COVID-19 cases jump to 551

File: Animated COVID-19

File: Animated COVID-19

JUBA – South Sudan has confirmed 82 new cases of COVID-19 in the last 24 hours, according to the undersecretary at the Ministry of Health Dr. Makur Koriom.

This brings the total number of those tested positive to 551.

“The public health laboratory releases test results of the last 24 hours which were about 271 test results and out of this, 52 tests were confirmed positive,” Dr Koriom told journalists on Friday evening.

He said currently there are 15 patients still receiving healthcare at the Dr. John Garang Infectious Disease Center.

Dr. Koriom said so far the total number of recorded coronavirus deaths is 6 and 6 recoveries.

Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is an infectious disease caused by a newly discovered coronavirus.

The World Health Organization says the best way to prevent and slow down transmission is be well informed about the coronavirus, the disease it causes and how it spreads.

Protect yourself and others from infection by washing your hands or using an alcohol based rub frequently and not touching your face.

The COVID-19 virus spreads primarily through droplets of saliva or discharge from the nose when an infected person coughs or sneezes, so it’s important that you also practice respiratory etiquette, for example, by coughing into a flexed elbow.

Explainer: Can you get the COVID-19 twice?

File: Animated COVID-19

File: Animated COVID-19

JUBA – With scattered reports of recovered COVID-19 patients testing positive again, a lot of people are wondering if it’s possible to develop immunity at all.

1 – Chances are many people will develop some sort of immunity but your immune system isn’t exactly straight forward.

2 – Until more data is released the length and strength of that potential immunity may not be known for some time.

3 – This isn’t helped by inconsistent testing rates which have impacted the reliability of positive or negative tests in the first place.

4 – So your best bet is to keep social distancing for as long as you can.

Narrator: Let’s assume you’ve had COVID-19. You might believe you’re immune, in the clear to go about your normal life without safety precautions. But with scattered reports of recovered cases testing positive again, a lot of people are wondering if it’s possible to develop immunity at all. So, can you catch COVID-19 twice? The thing is, scientists just aren’t sure, because figuring that out is a lot more complicated than you might think.

When a pathogen like a virus manages to get into a human, their body will signal an alarm. This will start what’s referred to as the innate immune response and consists of physical, chemical, and cellular defenses against pathogens. Often enough, this works, and the invader is killed, but sometimes you need a second attack. The adaptive immune response marshals the special forces: B cells and T cells. B cells produce antibodies that smother the specific pathogen so it can’t affect your body’s cells.

Shane Crotty: So, basically, antibodies kill virus outside of cells; killer T cells kill virus inside of cells.

Narrator: So, once your body fights the pathogen, what stops you from having to fight off the same attack over and over? Well, your body has a secret weapon to protect you against any future attacks from the same pathogen: memory cells. Memory cells are basically the specialized T cells and B cells that stick around as guards. That way, if you encounter the virus again, the army will be readily waiting to kill that invader instantly. This is immunity.

A vaccine works on this basis by adding dead, weakened, or fragmented parts of a pathogen to your body. Not enough to cause illness, but enough to cause your body to produce memory cells.

Crotty: Normally, when you have an infection, it’s a race between your immune system and the infection. But if you’re vaccinated, you’ve already done the race part. Your immune system has already had time to scale up and develop immunity.

Narrator: Typically, you would know if you have immunity, either from a vaccine or knowing you previously had the illness. For example, it’s relatively straightforward to know whether you’ve had chickenpox or not because the symptoms are highly unique and very easy to spot. But let’s presume you know you’ve had COVID-19. You now have immunity and are safe, right?

To test this theory, one early study infected monkeys with the COVID-19 virus. They then waited till they tested negative after the infection passed and tried to reinfect them. When the monkeys didn’t become reinfected, researchers concluded that after one viral attack, you would be protected from another. But this isn’t a golden ticket to thinking you’re immune, because the length and strength of that potential immunity are unknown.

And where a disease lies on the spectrum is influenced by two things, memory cell death rate and virus mutation rate. Memory cell death rate tells you at what rate those memory cells may be lost over time. The virus mutation rate can tell you if the virus will mutate too quickly for your memory cells. The more a virus mutates, the more unrecognizable it becomes to your memory cells. Determining where COVID-19 falls on this timescale is a vital step in managing its spread.

One indication of how long its immunity might last is to look at other coronaviruses. Those who have contracted SARS-1 have been found to have immunity for about two to three years, and the same time frame has been seen in other coronaviruses that can cause the common cold. Yet early signs have shown that this virus tends to mutate slowly. But there’s another indicator into immunity strength and length: the serology test.

Crotty: The serology testing is a blood test for the presence of antibodies against that specific virus or that specific disease.

Narrator: Importantly, these are tests that can be done after you’ve recovered from symptoms.

Crotty: And you don’t have to know exactly when that person was infected. And so that’s a very powerful way to count how many people have actually been infected, whether they recognize the symptoms or not.

Narrator: These tests can measure how many antibodies are in the sample by looking at how they block or respond to the virus. These measurements can help to understand immunity levels and how long immunity could last. For example, studies for many other viral infections have found that the more severe the case, the longer the immunity. Basically, the bigger the infection, the bigger the immune response and more antibodies in a sample, which in turn gives longer immunity. But this may not hold true for COVID-19.

Crotty: It certainly may not be as simple as if you’re positive for the antibody, you’re protected against the disease, you’re immune. That’s true for many infections; it’s not proven for COVID-19 disease.

Narrator: And the effectiveness of certain serology tests for COVID-19 has been mixed. Some tests are being misused, and others were brought into the United States before the FDA could approve them. The result has been poor detection rates, some as low as 20%.

Crotty: You know, these are the same types of tests as a pregnancy test. And so there’s no way people would take pregnancy tests if they were only accurate 60% of the time.

Narrator: And there have been instances of false positives, which can be extremely dangerous, because they arm people with a false sense of potential immunity. But these problems aren’t universal, and the FDA has begun approving a select few that show much higher accuracy. So, with an accurate serology test, would you be immune?

Well, one early Chinese study found 30% of those who tested positive for the virus had little to no detectable antibodies, which would suggest that immunity isn’t guaranteed, though this has been challenged by another study that found all patients tested had significant antibody levels. But other issues such as age or health could play into these responses.

Crotty: Is it gonna be 0.1% of people who can get reinfected three months later? Or is it going to be a higher number in the elderly?

Narrator: Once more accurate and universal testing is underway, more studies can begin to more precisely examine how long this immunity may last and who has it. So our best bet right now is to keep our distance and assume we’re not immune at all.

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