South Africa mildly ill after testing positive for COVID
JOHANNESBURG (AP) – South African President Cyril Ramaphosa is receiving treatment for mild symptoms of COVID-19 after testing positive for the disease on Sunday, his office said.
Ramaphosa began to feel unwell and a test confirmed COVID-19, a statement from the presidency said.
He is isolating himself in Cape Town and is being monitored by the South African military health service, the statement said. He has delegated all responsibilities to Vice President David Mabuza for next week.
Ramaphosa, 69, is fully vaccinated. The statement did not say whether he had been infected with the omicron variant of the coronavirus.
Last week, Ramaphosa visited four countries in West Africa. He and all members of his delegation were tested for COVID-19 in each of the countries during the trip.
Some members of the delegation tested positive in Nigeria and returned directly to South Africa. Throughout the remainder of the trip, Ramaphosa and his delegation tested negative. Ramaphosa returned from Senegal on December 8
Ramaphosa said his own infection serves as a warning to all residents of South Africa to get vaccinated and stay vigilant against exposure, the statement said. Vaccination remains the best protection against serious illness and hospitalization, he said.
People in South Africa who came into contact with Ramaphosa on Sunday are urged to watch for symptoms or get tested, he said.
South Africa is currently struggling with a rapid resurgence driven by the omicron variant, according to health officials.
The country recorded more than 18,000 new confirmed cases on Sunday evening. It is estimated that over 70% of cases originate from omicron, according to genetic sequencing surveys.
After a period of low transmission of around 200 new cases per day in early November, COVID-19 cases in South Africa began to increase dramatically. On November 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 dominant in the country. The majority of cases so far have been relatively mild and the percentage of severe cases requiring oxygen has been low, doctors say.