South Africa – Amidst escalating numbers of African infections because of the Omicron variant, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has himself been declared Covid positive. Isolated in Cape Town, the 69-year-old President is in quarantine and receiving treatment for mild symptoms.
As the Omicron variant grips the continent, it has been noted that the symptoms are mild and death rate has been lower. The statement says the president started feeling unwell after attending the funeral of former President FW de Klerk early on Sunday.
It is worth noting that the President had recently returned from a seven-day tour of Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Ghana and Senegal. While he was vaccinated in February, the fact that he has been infected again does not guarantee that the infection cannot recur.
Giving out a personal warning, he has requested people to take the vaccination effort seriously as a serious defense against getting more severely infected. Despite very public pleas from the authorities, fewer than 30% of South Africans are fully vaccinated because of what the country’s health authorities describe as a mass “vaccine hesitancy”.
Mr. Ramaphosa had recently returned from a seven-day tour of Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Ghana, and Senegal. Some members of his delegation had tested positive in Nigeria and returned directly to South Africa.
Hesitancy is rampant due to a lack of information, knowledge, and access to premier vaccines like Pfizer and Moderna. WHO has declared the Omicron as a variant of concern but the symptoms and effects are not leading to fatal deaths unlike in the case of the Delta variant.
A number of countries around the world have since introduced travel bans against South Africa and several neighboring countries – but this has failed to stop the new variant from spreading.