SSDU condemns harassment of frontline workers by security forces

June 1, 2020 (Thessherald)–The South Sudan Doctors’ Union (SSDU) has been dismayed and strongly condemned, in the strongest possible terms, the contued harassment of frontline workers by the country’s security forces.

“The South Sudan Doctors’ Union (SSDU) has learnt that on the evening of 30th May 2020 three frontline medical workers (including protection officer) on duty were harassed and briefly detained at a gunpoint by members of the organized forces at a hotel in Atlabara, Juba,” said in a statement extended to The South Sudan Herald.

“Despite being released following intervention from higher authorities, such acts of violence against healthcare personnel is a gross violation of human rights, infliction of fear and obstruction of duty of care.”

The group denounced all forms of ill-treatment against medical workers fighting on the front lines to contain the spread of the disease.

“The SSDU strongly condemns the ill-treatment of the contact-tracing frontline workers who have risked their lives to fight the deadly Coronavirus outbreak in our nation, South Sudan. Such acts can slow progress on the response and frustrate efforts to contain spread of the virus within the community.”

“The SSDU calls on authorities to investigate this incident, take disciplinary actions against the perpetrators and ensure that similar violations do not happen again in the future.”

“The SSDU further urges the National Taskforce on COVID-19 Response, especially leadership of the organized forces to guarantee security and prevent any violence against healthcare personnel across the country. We equally request the Ministry of Health and health facilities administrators to take [the] necessary measures that guarantee better protection for medical staff and patients.”

“The SSDU advises its members and other healthcare workers to stay alert to risks and attempt where possible to reduce chances of conflict when communicating with patients or guardians.”

The South Sudan Doctors’ Union (SSDU) called on citizens to respect medical practitioners while carrying out their medical work.

“We appeal to our society to respect and treat healthcare personnel with all decency they deserve and ensure that they are not harmed or discriminated against as they exercise their duty of care. We ask for cooperation and support of healthcare workers when exercising their duties and report to the SSDU any threat, abuse, violation or any other form of violence against healthcare personnel.”

Confirmed: Head of High-Level Task Force Abdelbagi tested positive for COVID-19

Vice President Hussein Abdelbagi Akol speaking to reporters in the capital Juba/Photo: SSBC

May 27, 2020 (Thessherald)–South Sudan’s Vice President for Service Cluster, H. E. Hussein Abdelbagi Akol, has tested positive for Coronavirus, the Ministry of Health confirmed on Wednesday.

Akol was the newly appointed Chairperson of the National Taskforce on COVID-19 after the previous Task Force headed by President Kiir and First Vice-President Dr. Riek Machar was dissolved last week.

“The result was announced today. We wish him a quick recovery together with the rest in his family and office,” said the statement issued by the Office of the First Vice-President.

Vice President Akol is the fourth senior government official to publicly announce his positive status, after the First Vice President, Dr. Rick Machar, announced, in a televised address, that he had contracted the virus along with other senior members of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-IO.

South Sudan, the world’s youngest nation has documented more than 1000 cases of the Coronavirus (COVID).

Lawmaker blames botched COVID-19 response on gov’t officials

Bor Gatwech Kuany, member of the Transitional National Legislative Assembly/ Photo: His Facebook Profile
Bor Gatwech, member of the Transitional National Legislative Assembly/ Photo: Facebook profile picture

May 21, 2020 (Thessherald)–A member of the incumbent Transitional National Legislative Assembly, Bor Gatwech Kuany has blamed political leaders for failing to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic by not providing much needed medical facilities in the country.

“This week, Juba situation with Coronavirus is tense. Many people are being confirmed positive while several people have died. The ignorance that there is no COVID-19 is fading. People are now worried while the government is ill prepared in its respond. So far, there are only few hundreds of beds with dozen of ventilators at both Juba teaching hospital and Dr. JOHN Garang’ Infectious Disease Unit.”

Bor explained that one of the patients with COVID-19 died two days ago as a result of not getting an effective ventilator.

“In fact, some one passed away two days ago simply because all the ventilators were occupied. No one nose could have been taken out so his nose could be fix in to get some oxygen.”

“The single centre designated for treatment is being expanded to more few beds. But the spread of the virus is proving to be much more faster than any initiative being made by the government to contain it so far.”

The lawmaker pointed out that due to ignorance, members of the public decided to violate the guidelines recommended by the World Health Organization, which led to the spread of the disease.

“The government response to contain the virus by enforcing social distancing, washing hands and so on have miserably failed because of ignorance. It seems to have left it to deal with the public naturally since most of the leaders that were engaged in combating the virus are now under quarantine.”

“The situation in Juba now with Coronavirus is like pre-December 2013. At that time, people knew the war was looming but have no power to stop it except the leaders. That war eventually killed around 300,000 people, two percent of the country population though the leaders had the capacity to avert and save the lives of the people. With current situation, the leaders also have the capacity to help save lives if they properly plan, decide, put money and make the law enforcement agencies enforce their directives.”

“According to WHO estimates, in any infection, the fatality rate of the corona virus is around 3%. So if the whole country is allowed to smoke the virus as the situation seems to be, the people who will die will be more than those killed by our last civil war.”

“Like pre-2013, every one now in Juba is worried of the looming Coronavirus catastrophe. Since the government is unable to enforce disciplinary measures to contain the virus, every one will be left to pass through it and either survive or pass on. If you survive, then you will be part of the herd immunity like after 2013 war, all those who survived the war became part of the revitalized government. The bad part of it is that Coronavirus war is different from our political war: it doesn’t discriminate. Though our last civil war was killing mostly only those who are not zol kebiir, Coronavirus attack every one.”

He recommended the following preventive measures that, if observed , would contain the spread of the virus.

Our leaders still have the last chance to save our country. If I were the President, I would lock down the country. But before that, give out any money we have so we can do few things:

• Expand treatment centres and fill them with ventilators and medicines. We can convert the redundant church and mosque buildings to be treatment centers.

• Anybody who is confirmed positive wether symptomatic or asymptomatic should not be allowed to roam around or be with his or her uninfected family or community. The government should immediately take care of them, put them in a place being monitored by the government.

• Give six month salaries to all government employees and pay any arrears the government owe to any employees

• Identify and provide food to the most vulnerable like those in the POC and any other group.

• Deploy all our security forces to enforce the lockdown all across the country.

• Ban any communal burials or gatherings around the dead. All people who died of Coronavirus should be buried by health professionals. People who died with other illnesses should be buried by only close few relatives. No funerals to be conducted at all until Corona is defeated. No transportation of the dead to the villages or ancestral lands.

Presidency cautions journalists against unethical reporting on COVID-19

President Salva Kiir Mayardit
President Salva Kiir addressing a news conference in the capital, Juba/Photo: File

May 13, 2020 (Thessherald)–The High-Level Task Force on COVID-19 has warned of punitive measures against some media outlets that publish details of COVID-19 patients, and urged them to desist from non-professional reporting practices.

In a strongly worded statement, the High-Level Task Forces denounced such practices and urged the news outlets to strictly adhere to principles of ethical journalism.

“The High-Level Taskforce strongly denounces the wave of information and disinformation around COVID- 19 disease including publishing in social media, names of private citizens allegedly confirmed COVID-19 positive,” said the statement issued today by the Presidency.

“The High-Level Taskforce wishes to assure the public that the Ministry of Health does not publish names nor does it share any information about private citizens in public or social media. The Taskforce urges the public to ignore this malicious propaganda, and further warns the culprits to desist from their hateful puffery.”

The Presidency encourages the victims who might have been affected by the actions to take legal proceedings against those journalists.

“Private citizens falling victims of this spiteful hype reserve the right of taking legal action against the perpetrators.”

As of today, the number of COVID-19 cases in the world’s youngest nation has surpassed 200.