UN in South Sudan hit by coronavirus

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Catherine Byaruhanga BBC News

The Head of the UN Mission in South Sudan has told the BBC that 47 of its staff members have tested positive for coronavirus with one person having died.

It comes as the number of cases in the country nears 2,000 – including at least 10 government ministers.

With only 10,000 tests having been carried out so far, health experts have warned that the true number of cases is likely to be much higher.

In a notice to staff David Shearer warned members of the peacekeeping mission to follow strict social distancing rules or face disciplinary action.

Mr Shearer told the BBC that most staff were respecting the measures but said they had a responsibility not to spread the virus.

In recent weeks there has been violence in some parts of the country leading to 60,000 people being displaced and several hundred civilians being killed, according to the UN.

Mr Shearer said the Covid-19 lockdown had meant there had been slow progress in tackling the upsurge in fighting.

He is concerned the pandemic could jeopardise South Sudan’s fragile peace agreement, signed after years of civil war.