South Sudan confirms first case of coronavirus

The patient arrived from Ethiopia and is being treated in isolation. (File/AFP)
Short Url
Updated 05 April 2020

South Sudan confirms first case of coronavirus

  • The UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) said the woman is a member of its staff
  • South Sudan has already closed bars, night clubs and shops, other than those selling food, and encouraged people to observe social distancing rules

JUBA: South Sudan reported its first coronavirus case on Sunday, one of the last African nations to confirm the presence of COVID-19 within its borders.
“South Sudan confirms one case of coronavirus,” Riek Machar, the country’s first vice president, told a press conference in the capital Juba.
Machar identified the patient as a 29-year-old woman who arrived in South Sudan from the Netherlands via Ethiopia on February 28.
Her nationality was not given.
In a statement, the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) said the woman is a member of its staff.
She tested positive for coronavirus on Saturday after presenting herself at a UN clinic on Thursday.
“The Ministry of Health is leading a full investigation with the World Health Organization and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention including identifying and following up all the possible contacts and next steps,” Machar said.
South Sudan has already closed bars, night clubs and shops, other than those selling food, and encouraged people to observe social distancing rules.
Borders have been shut and the country’s international airport closed. A curfew is also in place from 8:00 p.m. to 06:00 am.
One of the world’s poorest countries, South Sudan is woefully undeveloped. It has been wracked by a series of civil wars over decades, leaving it ill-equipped to fight the pandemic or provide even basic health care to its citizens.
The most recent round of civil war cost the lives of an estimated 380,000 people, forced millions from their homes and wrecked the already weak economy. It only ended with the appointment of Machar as vice president in February, rejoining the government of his foe President Salva Kiir.


Leading Hong Kong activists charged for Tiananmen vigil gathering

Updated 30 min 59 sec ago

Leading Hong Kong activists charged for Tiananmen vigil gathering

  • Hong Kongers defied a ban on rallies to mark the June 4 anniversary of Beijing’s deadly 1989 crackdown
  • China’s leaders have rejected calls to give Hong Kongers universal suffrage

HONG KONG: Thirteen prominent Hong Kong democracy activists appeared in court on Monday charged with holding an unauthorized gathering to mark the Tiananmen Square crackdown, the latest in a string of prosecutions against protest leaders in the restless financial hub.
Last month tens of thousands of Hong Kongers defied a ban on rallies to mark the June 4 anniversary of Beijing’s deadly 1989 crackdown against students pushing for democracy.
The annual vigil has been held in Hong Kong for the last three decades and usually attracts huge crowds. It has taken on particular significance in recent years as the semi-autonomous city chafes under Beijing’s increasingly authoritarian rule.
This year’s vigil was banned for the first time with authorities citing coronavirus measures. At the time local transmission had largely been halted.
But thousands turned out to hold candles in their neighborhoods and in Victoria Park, the traditional site of the vigil.
Police later arrested 13 leading activists who appeared at the Victoria Park vigil.
All appeared in court on Monday to be formally charged with “inciting” an unlawful assembly, which carries up to five years in jail.
Among them are Jimmy Lai, the millionaire owner of the openly pro-democracy Apple newspaper, veteran democracy activists such as Lee Cheuk-yan and Albert Ho as well as young campaigner Figo Chan.
When asked if he understood the charge, Lee invoked the hundreds who were killed by Chinese tanks and soldiers at Tiananmen.
“This is political persecution,” he said. “The real incitement is the massacre conducted by the Chinese Communist Party 31 years ago.”
Some of those charged on Monday — and many other leading democracy figures — face separate prosecutions related to last year’s huge and often violent pro-democracy protests.
China’s leaders have rejected calls to give Hong Kongers universal suffrage and portrayed the protests as a plot by foreigners to destabilize the motherland.
Earlier this month Beijing imposed a sweeping national security law aimed at stamping out the protests once and for all.
The law targets subversion, secession, terrorism and foreign collusion, with sentences including life in prison.
But its broad phrasing — such as a ban on encouraging hatred toward China’s government — has sent fear rippling through a city used to being able to speak its mind.
Police have arrested people for possessing pro-independence or autonomy material, libraries and schools have pulled books, political parties have disbanded and one prominent opposition politician has fled.
The law bypassed Hong Kong’s legislature and its contents were kept secret until the moment it was enacted.
It empowered China’s security apparatus to set up shop openly in Hong Kong for the first time, while Beijing has also claimed jurisdiction for some serious national security cases — ending the legal firewall between the mainland the city’s independent judiciary.
China has also announced global jurisdiction to pursue national security crimes committed by anyone outside of Hong Kong and China, including foreigners.