South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa tested positive for COVID-19 on Sunday, though is showing only mild symptoms and receiving treatment, the presidency said.
“The President started feeling unwell after leaving the State Memorial Service in honour of former Deputy President FW de Klerk in Cape Town earlier today,” the statement added.
“The President, who is fully vaccinated, is in self-isolation in Cape Town and has delegated all responsibilities to Deputy President David Mabuza for the next week,” according to the presidency.
The presidency did not say whether Ramaphosa, 69, had been infected with the Omicron variant of the coronavirus.
The highly mutated variant, which was first detected in South Africa last month, has sparked global panic over fears that it is more contagious than other strains of the coronavirus.
In the past few days, a nationwide outbreak believed to be linked to the new Omicron variant of the coronavirus has been infecting around 20,000 people a day. South African scientists see no sign that the variant causes more severe illness.
During visits to four West African countries last week, Ramaphosa and his team were tested for COVID-19 multiple times. Some in the president’s delegation tested positive in Nigeria and returned directly to South Africa, throughout the rest of the trip, Ramaphosa and his delegation tested negative, the presidency said.
“The president and the delegation returned to South Africa from the Republic of Senegal on Wednesday, December 8, 2021, after obtaining negative test results.
“The president also tested negative on his return to Johannesburg on December 8,” it said.
The statement quoted Ramaphosa as saying that his own infection served as a warning to all citizens of the importance of getting vaccinated and remaining vigilant against exposure.
“Vaccination remains the best protection against severe illness and hospitalisation,” the statement said.
“People who have had contact with the president today are advised to watch for symptoms or to have themselves tested,” it added.
More than 18,000 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 were recorded on Sunday night, with more than 70% of the cases estimated to be from Omicron, according to genetic sequencing surveys.