A huge crowd gathered in Aweil town in defiance of social distancing measures for preventing the spread of Covid-19 as they welcomed the newly appointed governor of Northern Bahr-el-Ghazal State on Saturday.
Tong Aken Ngor was making his first visit to the state as governor in the new unity government.
However, pictures shared widely showed the majority of the people in his entourage did not observe coronavirus preventive measures such as physical distancing, wearing face masks, and hand washing.
This is despite the surge in the number of Covid-19 cases in the country. South Sudan has so far registered 2,148 Covid-19 cases with 1,135 recovered cases and 41 deaths.
The laxity by political leaders in adhering to anti-Covid-19 guidelines has attracted criticisms from a section of the public.
The Chairperson of the national taskforce — Hussein Abdelbagi who accompanied governor Aken to Aweil is one of the leaders criticized this week for engaging in political gatherings and communal events when he visited Warrap state early this week.
Civil society activists said the leaders are not leading by example, making it difficult to prevent the spread of the pandemic.
The Executive Director of Community Empowerment for Progress Organization (CEPO), Edmond Yakani reiterated calls for the National Taskforce to handover COVID-19 response to the Doctors’ Union.
He said politicians will continue to undermine efforts for containing the virus.
“We need to give medical professionals the primary responsibility to make sure the response is completely technical like the same way HIV/AIDS was responded to in the early days,” Yakani told Eye Radio.
“It should be completely professional and technical. The needs of professionals who are engaged in this fight should be fulfilled so that they get motivated to take responsibility for exercising their skills in the fight against COVID-19.”
Several other government officials in Juba have also been seen attending funerals, community events, and other political activities.
“We will never adhere to the preventive measures if professionals are not the ones running the process,” Yakani added.
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