Riek Machar, South Sudan’s former rebel leader and its first vice president, has tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.
Machar’s wife, Minister of Defence Angelina Teny, and “a number of his office staff and bodyguards” have also been infected, according to a statement posted on Monday on the office’s Facebook page and attributed to press secretary James Gatdek Dak.
Machar “has issued a public statement declaring that he is found positive, and from today will self-quarantine in his residence for the next 14 days”, it said.
South Sudan, which is emerging from a devastating six-year civil war, has so far recorded 339 cases of COVID-19 and six deaths, according to the latest figures from the health ministry, also released on Monday.
Though the number is relatively low, aid agencies are sounding the alarm over a sharp rise in cases in recent days.
Last week, officials announced two cases in a camp of about 30,000 displaced people who have been seeking United Nations protection in the capital Juba since 2013.
A case has also been confirmed in a similar camp in northern Bentiu, home to almost 120,000 people.
The country continues to be gripped by humanitarian emergency and hunger, even after Machar and President Salva Kiir – the main rivals in the civil war – formed a unity government in February.
The two men remain deadlocked on key issues such as the control of regional states.