South African President Cyril Ramaphosa tests positive for COVID-19

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa tests positive for COVID-19

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa is receiving treatment for mild COVID-19 symptoms after testing positive for the disease on Sunday, his office said.

Ramaphosa started feeling unwell and a test confirmed COVID-19, a statement from the presidency announced.

He is self-isolating in Cape Town and being observed by the South African Military Health Service, the statement said. He has delegated all responsibilities to Deputy President David Mabuza for the next week.

Ramaphosa, 69, is fully vaccinated. The statement didn’t say whether he had been infected with the omicron coronavirus variant.

Last week, Ramaphosa visited four West African countries. He and all members of his delegation were tested for COVID-19 in each of the countries during the trip. Some in the delegation tested positive in Nigeria and returned directly to South Africa. Throughout the rest of the trip, Ramaphosa and his delegation tested negative. He returned from Senegal on Wednesday.

Ramaphosa, left, meets with Ivorian President Alassane Ouattara in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, on Dec. 2. (Sia Kambou/AFP/Getty Images)

Ramaphosa said his own infection serves as a caution to all people in South Africa to be vaccinated and keep vigilant against exposure, the statement said. Vaccination remains the best protection against harsh illness and hospitalization, it said.

People in South Africa who had contact with Ramaphosa on Sunday are advised to watch for symptoms or to have themselves tested, it said.

Omicron-pushed resurgence

South Africa is currently battling a rapid resurgence pushed by the omicron variant, health officials say.

The country recorded more than 18,000 new confirmed situations on Sunday night. More than 70 per cent of the situations are estimated to be from omicron, according to genetic sequencing surveys.

After a period of low transmission of about 200 new situations per day in early November, South Africa’s COVID-19 situations began rising dramatically. On Nov. 25, scientists in southern Africa confirmed the omicron variant, which has more than 50 mutations.

Omicron appears to be highly transmissible and has quickly become principal in the country. So far, the majority of situations have been comparatively mild and the percentage of harsh situations needing oxygen have been low, say doctors.

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