South Africa’s president tested positive for the coronavirus on Sunday, as new cases continue to rise in the country.
President Cyril Ramaphosa took a coronavirus test on Sunday, when he felt unwell after leaving a state memorial service for former President F.W. de Klerk, according to a statement from his office. Mr. Ramaphosa, who is fully vaccinated, will remain in self-isolation for the next week. The 69-year-old was in good spirits and displayed mild Covid-19 symptoms, the statement said.
Since researchers in South Africa first detected the Omicron variant at the end of November, coronavirus cases have surged in the nation. Scientists say Omicron has supplanted Delta as the dominant variant in the country. South Africa is experiencing a rate of new infections that is unprecedented in the pandemic, according to a letter Mr. Ramaphosa wrote to the country last week, urging vigilance and vaccination.
A month ago, the rate of new virus cases had dropped to fewer than 300 per day, and the test positivity rate hovered around 2 percent. The latest data, released on Sunday, showed the positivity rate had increased to nearly 29 percent, with more than 18,000 new cases recorded in the last 24 hours.
Mr. de Klerk, the nation’s last apartheid-era president, died on Nov. 11 and was buried in a private ceremony a few weeks later. The state memorial was held on Sunday in Cape Town, where Mr. Ramaphosa delivered the eulogy.
Mr. Ramaphosa returned to South Africa last week from a four-nation tour of Nigeria, the Ivory Coast, Ghana and Senegal in West Africa. He and his delegation were tested for the virus in each country, his office said.
Mr. Ramaphosa tested negative before leaving the Senegalese capital, Dakar, his last stop, on Wednesday, and tested negative again when he returned to South Africa later that day, his office said.