President Cyril Ramaphosa has tested negative for the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), the Presidency said in a statement on Thursday.
Ramaphosa got tested on Tuesday, 24 March as a precautionary measure following advice from his physicians and received the results on Wednesday evening.
The Presidency said, “As Head of State and Chair of the National Command Council (NCC) the President has a rigorous public engagements schedule and has, during the course of the last few weeks, held numerous meetings with a wide cross section of people from all walks of life.”
‘President is in good health’
It added, “In line with international guidelines as well as those of the Department of Health, testing is recommended if you experience symptoms, if you live in or recently travelled to an area with ongoing spread of COVID-19 or if you have been in close contact with someone known to have COVID-19.
“The Presidency has deemed it necessary to make the test results public to reassure the nation that the President is in good health and continues with his duties.”
Concerns about Ramaphosa’s health were raised when African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP) leader Rev Kenneth Meshoe announced on Sunday (22 March) that he had decided to get tested for coronavirus.
Meshoe was among political party leaders with whom Ramaphosa held a consultative meeting on the pandemic in Cape Town on 17 March.
Meshoe still awaiting results
Meshoe’s decision to get tested came after five tourists who attended the Jerusalem Prayer Breakfast hosted by the Divine Restoration Ministries in Bloemfontein on 10-11 March tested positive. Meshoe also attended the event.
In a statement on Sunday, the Presidency said, “At this point in time there is no cause for concern about the President’s health or reason for the President to be tested. To the best of the President’s knowledge, no person with whom he has recently had contact – including Rev Meshoe – has symptoms of or tested positive for the virus.”
In an update on Twitter on Wednesday, the ACDP said Meshoe is still awaiting the results of his test and remains in self-isolation.
“While we wait for the #Covid19SA test results for @RevMeshoe, be assured he remains in self isolation, still without symptoms and in fervent support and prayer for the nation, especially during this pandemic,” the party said.
Ramaphosa has similarly called on South Africans to observe Thursday, the eve of the 21-day lockdown, as a national day of prayer.
He said in a statement on Wednesday, “I call on all our people, whether they are religious or not, wherever they are, on Thursday the 26th of March to observe a moment of silence in a show of social solidarity.”