South African President, who was in Ghana from 3rd to 5th December 2021, for a State Visit at invitation of his Ghanaian counterpart Nana Akufo-Addo, has tested positive for COVID-19.
Cyril Ramaphosa, is receiving treatment for mild symptoms, his office has confirmed.
But there is a remote possibility that President Akufo-Addo is not affected as details on President Ramaphosa claimed that while on the tour to Ghana and other West African countries including Nigeria, Senega and Cote d’Ivoire, he and his delegation were constantly tested and came out negative.
Those who tested positive in Nigeria while from 30 November 2021 and December 1, marking the 10th Session of the Bi-National Commission (BNC) between Nigeria and South Africa, were returned directly to South Africa.
Ramaphosa, who is fully vaccinated, began feeling unwell after leaving a state memorial service for former President F W de Klerk in Cape Town on Sunday, it said.
The 69-year-old leader is now self-isolating in Cape Town and is being monitored by the South African Military Health Service, it said.
He has delegated all responsibilities to Deputy President David Mabuza for the next week.
The presidency did not say whether Ramaphosa 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.
The statement from the South African presidency said Ramaphosa and his team had been tested for COVID-19 multiple times last week during visits to four West African countries, adding that 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 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.
On Thursday December 2, 2021 to 3 December, 2021 President Ramaphosa was in Abidjan in Cote d’Ivoire.
Ramaphosa praised President Alassane Outtara for standing in solidarity against the travel bans amid South Africa’s discovery of the Omicron variant of Covid-19. While Outtara was full of praise for the business delegation Ramaphosa brought to his country.
President Ramaphosa on the evening of 3 December 2021, arrived in Accra for a State Visit at the invitation of President Akufo-Addo, and stayed from 4 to 05 December 2021 on the third leg of a four-nation visit to West Africa.
On Sunday, 5 December 2021, Cyril arrived in Senegal on an official visit at the invitation of President Macky Sall, and on Monday, 6 December 2021, participated in the Dakar International Forum on Peace and Security.
South Africa is currently battling a rapid resurgence driven by the Omicron variant, health officials say.
In early November, South Africa was recording about 200 new cases, but infections began rising dramatically soon after.
The country recorded more than 18,000 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 on Sunday night.
More than 70 percent of the cases are estimated to be from Omicron, according to genetic sequencing surveys.
So far, the majority of cases have been relatively mild, and the percentage of severe cases needing oxygen have been low, say doctors.