Opinion

All must work together to fight coronavirus

By Poiya Isaac Lagu, (LLM)

The Office of the UN Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary General on Sunday, 05-04-2020issued a press release that confirmed a case of coronavirus among its staff in South Sudan.

The Ministry of Health and World Health Organization are leading the investigations by epidemiologists to test people recently in contact with the patient in accordance with agreed protocols. The patient has been resident in South Sudan for five weeks. She started working from home immediately after the onset of the symptoms and voluntarily requested to be tested to check her status with regard to COVID-19.

According to media reports on the 04-04-2020, “almost inevitably, I think that COVID-19 is here but, we just don’t know it yet”, Shearer said. The Chief of the UN Mission to South Sudan David Shearer said 150 people who arrived on the last flight into Juba International Airport two weeks ago before closing down the airport were placed in quarantine, “with several dozen” still isolated as a precaution.

UN is an International Organization and it ought to be prepared to fight such pandemic disease like COVID-19. And in my opinion Shearer might have known that COVID-19 is already in the country, but declined to inform the public or he concealed the necessary information for one reason or another. Can he tell us where did he quarantine those 150 staff? Can the UN Clinic handle the issues concerning this pandemic disease?

The normal questions to a reasonable person shall be; was this first patient among those quarantined for 14 days as from 28-02-2020? Where was she quarantined? Is this patient really a UN staff, are there evidences to proof the contrary? What is this citizen doing in South Sudan? Is it her first entry into South Sudan? Was she working after the 14 days? Did she develop the symptoms on the 02-04-2020? Was she tested for the COVID-19 from her country of origin?

If she was tested and found positive, why did the UN allow her to come into South Sudan? And if she was tested negative after the 14 days, did the UN COVID-19 team carry out follow up tests together with the South Sudan High Level Taskforce team? When did the UN inform the high level taskforce team about the case, was it on the 02-04-2020? If yes, then why did the UN delay all these five weeks to inform the public? Does the UN have the tools and equipment used for testing COVID-19? What is the UN doing in fighting the COVID-19 in South Sudan? Who allowed this infected UN staff to enter into South Sudan? Was it the UN, or could anyone be held responsible or could there be an act of negligence or a deliberate intention?

Our government should take this first case serious, the people of South Sudan should be kept informed all the time about the coronavirus. UN should provide more information about the status of this patient including her medical records and those others in the quarantine to allow the government prepare for future cases. UN should cooperate with the government of South Sudan. The two must trust one another, there should be no fear. They should work together. There should be no act of negligence or a deliberate intention to spread the COVID-19 in to South Sudan. Every party must keep their hands clean; no one should condone or facilitate the spread of the virus there-to.

Each party must disclose necessary information about COVID-19 in time as soon as the laboratory test is established. No information about COVID-19 should be kept secret. Observe isolation and quarantine measures. This is to protect our citizens against the COVID-19 and for the safety and good health of the UN staff in the country. The Taskforce should keep all UN staff on quarantine and test them immediately. Anyone who deliberately or knowingly spread this contagious disease or conceal information or facilitate the entry of any person suspected of having such a communicable disease should be legally handled in accordance with the Presidential directives on the coronavirus and any other International Statutes or norms internationally recognized. An African proverb of the Ashanti of Ghana says “One falsehood spoils a thousand truths.”

The author is an Advocate & Commissioner for Oaths, Tel; (+211)924086970,                                                         email; poiyaisaaclagu@gmail.com, Juba!

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