South African President Cyril Ramaphosa tested positive for Covid-19 on Sunday and is receiving treatment for mild symptoms, the presidency said in a statement.
Ramaphosa, who is fully vaccinated, began feeling unwell after leaving a state memorial service for former deputy president F W de Klerk in Cape Town earlier in the day but was in good spirits and being monitored by doctors, it said.
The highly mutated Omicron variant was first detected in South Africa last month and sparked global panic over fears that it is more contagious than other variants.
Ramaphosa will remain in self-isolation in Cape Town for the time being and has delegated all responsibilities to Deputy President David Mabuza for the next week.
On a recent visit to four West African states, the president and the entire South African delegation were tested for Covid-19 in all countries, the statement said.
“The president and the delegation returned to South Africa from the Republic of Senegal on Wednesday, 8 December 2021, after obtaining negative test results.
“The president also tested negative on his return to Johannesburg on 8 December.”
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 adds.