Ramaphosa tests positive for Covid-19
President Cyril Ramaphosa has tested positive for Covid-19 and is receiving treatment for mild symptoms.
Minister in the Presidency Mondli Gungubele said in a statement on Sunday evening that Ramaphosa tested positive today after he started feeling unwell when he left the State Memorial Service in honour of former Deputy President FW de Klerk.
Ramaphosa is self-isolating in Cape Town, where the memorial was held.
“The President is in good spirits but is being monitored by the South African Military Health Service of the South African National Defence Force,” the Presidency stated.
He has delegated all responsibilities to Deputy President David Mabuza for the next week.
“On his recent visit to four West African states, President Ramaphosa and the South African delegation were tested for Covid-19 in all countries,” the Presidency assured.
“The President and the delegation returned to South Africa from the Republic of Senegal on Wednesday, 8 December 2021, after obtaining negative test results. The President also tested negative on his return to Johannesburg on 8 December.”
The Presidency also assured that De Klerk’s memorial service today was undertaken in compliance with health regulations pertaining to hand hygiene, the wearing of face masks, and social distancing.
“President Ramaphosa says his own infection serves as a caution to all people in the country to be vaccinated and remain vigilant against exposure. Vaccination remains the best protection against severe illness and hospitalisation,” said Gungubele.
“People who have had contact with the President today are advised to watch for symptoms or to have themselves tested.
South Africa recorded 18,035 daily coronavirus cases as a fourth wave of infections fueled by the omicron variant rips through the nation.
The country also recorded 19,840 “retrospective” positive test results that hadn’t been included in earlier totals, the data from the National Institute for Communicable Diseases showed in a statement on Sunday. Of the tests conducted on Sunday, 28.9% were positive.
The continued high rate of infections comes as the nation’s economy contracted more than expected in the third quarter and the unemployment rate surged to a new high of 34.9%. That will make it difficult for President Cyril Ramaphosa to place the country on a stricter form of lockdown when his meets with his cabinet to discuss the issue.
The figures also reduce the chance that more than 90 nations that banned travel to and from South Africa will lift the restrictions. PwC estimates the bans could cost the country as much as 6.5 billion rand ($407 million) in potential foreign revenue, placing pressure on growth in the fourth quarter.
Most of the infections with the variant have so far been in Gauteng, the province where Johannesburg and the capital, Pretoria, are located. It recorded 42% of the new cases, followed by KwaZulu-Natal at 16% and the Western Cape tallying 13%.
South Africa’s official death toll of over 90,000 and about 3.2 million cases make it the country hardest hit by the virus in Africa, although testing and accurate recording of the causes of fatalities is weak across much of the continent. A number of its neighbors, including Zimbabwe, are also in the grip of a fourth wave of coronavirus infections and vaccine rollouts are slow.