South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has tested positive for Covid-9 after returning after a diplomatic visit spanning four Western-African countries his ministry announced on Sunday. It is, as of yet unconfirmed whether President Ramaphosa has been infected with the Omicron variant of the virus.
The South African leader is symptomatic but only mildly ill according to media reports. He is fully-vaccinated. Ramaphosa has taken the opportunity to remind people to remain cautious and get vaccinated as it was the best defence against infections.
"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," the presidency added. It said that Ramaphosa had begun feeling unwell shortly after returning from Senegal and attending a memorial service for former President F.W de Klerk. He had consistently tested negative for the course of his trip abroad.
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.
Vaccine hesitancy and slow pace of vaccination programmes has left only 25.8% of the population fully vaccinated. In addition to this, the high rates of HIV/AIDS in the population has left many unable to fight off the Covid-19 virus, leading to many infectious clusters around the country.