The office of South Sudanese vice president Riek Machar revealed on Monday, May 18 that he and his wife, Angelina Teny, who is the defense minister, had tested positive for COVID-19. A number of his staff members had also contracted the virus. During a televised address, Machar announced he and his wife would be self-isolating in their home in the capital Juba for the next two weeks, while reassuring the public they were “feeling well and healthy”.
Machar is the leader of the SPLM-IO, a former rebel group turned political party whose decision to form a unity government with President Salva Kiir’s SPLM in late February formally brought to an end a seven-year-long civil war that had led to the displacement of more than 4 million people out of a population of about 11 million.
The country's healthcare system is one of the weakest on the continent.
South Sudan is one of the last countries in sub-Saharan Africa to officially confirm its first case of COVID-19; the tally has now risen to 290 known cases and four deaths.
After years of conflict, the country’s healthcare system is one of the weakest on the continent, raising fears that the virus might spread in camps for internally displaced people and beyond the country’s borders. Food insecurity exacerbates this risk, as many South Sudanese have been forced to violate quarantine measures to ensure they and their families can feed themselves.