Ministers to return from Doha after COVID-19 quarantine
The Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Mayiik Ayii Deng, and the Minister for Investment, Dr Dhieu Mathok Diing, are set to return to the country today.
The development came after the state officials finally showed no signs and tested negative for the COVID-19 pandemic on Sunday evening, a statement released by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation noted.
The statement read in part, “This is to inform the public that the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Mayiik Ayii Deng, and the Minister of Investment, Dr Dhieu Mathok Diing, have tested negative for COVID-19 this evening in Qatar and are set to return home on Tuesday.”
The statement added that the President’s state visit had been rescheduled but never disclosed when he would travel to Doha, Qatar.
According to early media reports, the visit was meant to discuss bilateral relations between the two countries particularly on peace, economy, trade, and infrastructural development among others.
On November 7, President Kiir dispatched a team of ministers to Qatar in preparation for his state visit to the Gulf nation for bilateral talks.
The visit to Qatar was to be the first for President Kiir, following the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) at the Qatar Mission Headquarters in New York, by the Permanent Representative of Qatar to UN Ambassador, Sheik Alya Ahmed bin Saif Al-Thani, and South Sudan Ambassador, Akuei Bona Malwal.
The memorandum of understanding jointly signed in September 2020 was for the establishment of diplomatic relations, and cooperation in the disciplines of politics, economy, business and culture.
Trip called off
The President’s visit was called off after some of the team members tested positive for COVID-19 and were quarantined for 14 days as per the COVID-19 protocols.
The media reports had indicated that five members tested positive while some of the team members returned to the country. This was after the Minister for Presidential Affairs, Dr Barnaba Marial Benjamin, confirmed that the visit was cancelled and would be rescheduled at its opportune time.
“No way, President Kiir is not travelling today, the journey has been put off. Maybe we will get back within the next 10 days or after sometimes,” Dr Barnaba revealed to The City Review in a telephone interview.
A similar incident was witnessed in June 2021, when Bright Stars football players also tested positive for the bug in Qatar ahead of the FIFA Arab Cup tournament.
As a result, South Sudan was withdrawn after the players were quarantined and points were awarded to the opponent team, Jordan.
They had no other option but to return to the country on completion of their 14-day quarantine period, which had elapsed.