VSyril Ramaphosa announced on Sunday December 12 that he was positive for Covid-19. In a statement, the South African president said he was suffering from mild symptoms, prompting him to start treatment. The 69-year-old head of state explained that he began to feel bad in the middle of the day on Sunday after a tribute ceremony to one of his predecessors, Frederik de Klerk – who died on November 11.
During this ceremony, which brought together 200 people, Cyril Ramaphosa wore a mask, which he however removed for a few minutes during his speech. “The president, who is fully vaccinated, has isolated himself in Cape Town and has delegated all his responsibilities to Vice President David Mabuza for next week,” added the president’s office, adding that the ceremony took place in the compliance with sanitary rules.
However, people who have come into contact with Mr Ramaphosa have been advised to watch for symptoms or to get tested. The Head of State is followed by the army health services. For the moment, no information has been communicated specifying whether it had been contaminated by the new Omicron variant detected last month in South Africa. WHO boss Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, as well as the director of the African Union Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), John Nkengasong, wished him “a speedy recovery” in Twitter messages.
” Warning “
Omicron is now the source of the vast majority of contaminations in the southern African country, which has seen an exponential increase in cases since its appearance. Hospitalizations, however, remain fairly low. South Africa is officially the African country most affected by the pandemic. The country has more than 3.1 million cases including more than 90,000 deaths.
Many unknowns still hover over the nature of the new form of the virus which has many mutations, but according to the first observations of scientists, it is more contagious. Researchers are still working on the effectiveness of vaccines.
Cyril Ramaphosa recently made an official visit to four West African countries, during which he underwent regular tests. When he returned to South Africa on December 8, he had tested negative, the presidency said. The press release quotes the head of state declaring that he wants his own contamination “to serve as a warning to all the inhabitants of the country to be vaccinated and to remain vigilant to any exposure” to the virus. Just over a quarter of South Africans are fully vaccinated to date, more than elsewhere in Africa but far behind the rest of the world.
Omicron is now present in at least 57 countries. So far, ten African countries have reported cases. The continent recorded more than 107,000 new infections of Covid-19 during the week that ended on December 5, against only 55,000 the previous week, according to WHO Africa. Omicron’s share of this increase remains to be determined. Southern Africa recorded the largest increase, 140% on average. According to the first data from South Africa the variant could however cause “less severe forms of the disease”, according to WHO Africa. Only 7.8% of the 1.2 billion Africans are so far fully immunized.