President Cyril Ramaphosa tested negative for the novel coronavirus, the Presidency announced on Thursday morning.
Ramaphosa’s spokesperson Khusela Diko said the president was tested as a precautionary measure on the advice of his physicians on Tuesday. He received his results on Wednesday night.
“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.
Minister of Defence Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula said people are spreading rumors and old videos of the army and emphasized that no soldiers have been deployed yet.
“In line with international guidelines, as well as those of the national Department of Health, testing is recommended if you experience symptoms if you live in or recently traveled to an area with the ongoing spread of Covid-19, or if you have been in close contact with someone known to have Covid-19,” Diko said.
Several African countries have been hit by the virus and some have declared a national shutdown to stop it from spreading further.
Ramaphosa is scheduled to hold a teleconference with African leaders today in his capacity as the chairperson of the African Union.
He will discuss the issue with presidents Félix Tshisekedi (Democratic Republic of Congo), Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta (Republic of Mali), Uhuru Kenyatta (Republic of Kenya) and Abdel Fattah el-Sisi (Arab Republic of Egypt), as well as African Union Commission chairperson, Moussa Faki Mahamat.
Diko said the meeting would also look at collaboration with the United National secretary in his efforts to address the pandemic, globally.
“AU organs, partners and philanthropists are key players to the AU and their role will form part of the discussions, with the objective of optimizing their resources as part of a wider campaign to mobilize resources, especially for poor countries with infrastructural challenges.”
On Wednesday, the health department recorded 709 positive cases, with a growing number of internal transmissions.
South Africa goes into lockdown on Thursday evening to curb the spread of the virus.
This will means only essential service providers, such as health care workers, will be allowed to leave their homes.