South Sudan: Kiir Criticised for Easing COVID-19 Restrictions

Coronavirus (file photo).

Various stakeholders in South Sudan have criticised President Salva Kiir for easing restrictions meant to curb the spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus.

On Friday alone, the country recorded 30 Covid-19 cases that brought the total number of confirmed coronavirus cases to 120.

A statement seen by The EastAfrican issued on Thursday by President Kiir permitted businesses including bars, restaurants, boda boda, rickshaws, and others to reopen. It also changed curfew time from the previous 7pm to 6am restriction to 10pm to 6am.

The president heads the country's High-Level Taskforce on Covid-19.

South Sudan Doctors' Union said the move was ill-timed and it would hurt millions of residents.

"SSDU believes that easing restrictions would encourage transmission to areas where health professionals are not trained and where facilities are not available to quarantine positive cases," the union said in a statement.

Dr Thuou Loi, the national Health ministry's spokesman, said South Sudan would likely have a full blown of Covid-19, given the disconnect between the technical team and the High-Level Taskforce on coronavirus.

"I advise that there is need to continue restrictions, continue testing people leaving Juba and those coming in country from Covid-19 affected countries so that we prevent the importation of more coronavirus cases," Dr Loi said.

Jame Kolok, the executive director for Foundation for Democracy and Accountable Governance, said the move to relax restrictions is political and was made without consulting health experts.

He said going by the rate of infections in South Sudan and the easing of restrictions, South Sudan could soon have the highest coronavirus cases in the East African region.

"There are concerns comings from families and residents where Covid-19 patients were quarantined that they are moving anyhow in the areas...The government should use the public funds to establish testing centres and build more isolation centres," Mr Kolok said.

When asked why the presidency lifted the orders, Dr Makur Koriom, the spokesman of the High-Level Taskforce, said, "The move was a decision made by President Salva Kiir, who is also the chairman of the taskforce. With criticisms from the public and activists, we are happy to listen to those concerns and they will be made available for the president."

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