South Africa's president in quarantine as virus cases rise

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FILE In this Friday, April 24, 2020 file photo, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa visits a field hospital in Johannesburg. Ramaphosa has announced he has gone into quarantine after coming into contact with a dinner guest who has tested positive for COVID-19. He came into contact with a guest at a dinner of 35 people in Johannesburg last weekend, the president's spokesman said Wednesday, Oct. 28. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay, File)

JOHANNESBURG – South African president Cyril Ramaphosa has announced he has gone into quarantine after coming into contact with a dinner guest who has tested positive for COVID-19.

Ramaphosa came into contact with a guest at a dinner of 35 people in Johannesburg last weekend, the president's spokesman said Wednesday. The dinner was to raise funds to support South Africa's schools.

“The event adhered stringently to COVID-19 protocols and directives on screening, social distancing and the wearing of masks," acting spokesman Tyrone Seale said. “As was the case with all guests, the president himself removed his mask only when dining and addressing the guests.”

Ramaphosa is not showing any symptoms and is working at home, he said. The guest who tested positive is getting medical care, he said.

Ramaphosa learned of his possible exposure Tuesday night, after he had unveiled a statue at Johannesburg's O.R. Tambo International airport and later answered questions from parliament in an online briefing.

Ramaphosa's quarantine comes as South Africa is experiencing a rise COVID-19 cases. The 7-day rolling average of daily new cases in South Africa has risen over the past two weeks from 2.72 new cases per 100,000 people on Oct. 13 to 2.78 new cases per 100,000 people on Oct. 27. South Africa reported 1,092 new infections and 48 deaths recorded in the last 24 hours. However, South Africa's 7-day rolling average of daily deaths has decreased over the past two weeks, going from 0.22 deaths per 100,000 people on Oct. 13 to 0.10 deaths per 100,000 people on Oct. 27.

With nearly 718,000 cumulative confirmed cases, South Africa accounts for more than 40% of all the more than 1.7 million cases reported by Africa's 54 countries, representing a population of 1.3 billion people.

Answering questions in parliamentary Tuesday, Ramaphosa said his government is closely watching the slow resurgence of COVID-19, after the country passed its first peak of cases and deaths in late July. He said his government was not considering imposing another hard lockdown over fears of a second wave of infections.