COVID-19

President Ramaphosa tests negative for coronavirus

By Reuters 26 March 2020

epa08316631 A handout photo made available by GCIS (Government Information Services) dated 23 March 2020 shows President Cyril Ramaphosa declaring a national lockdown as a result of Covid-19 Coronavirus, Pretoria, South Africa. The lockdown will continue for 21 days and will start Thursday 26 March at midnight. EPA-EFE/GCIS HANDOUT HANDOUT EDITORIAL USE ONLY/NO SALES

JOHANNESBURG, March 26 (Reuters) - South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has tested negative for coronavirus after taking the test as a precautionary measure, the presidency said in a statement on Thursday.

The president underwent the test on Tuesday on the advice of physicians and received his results on Wednesday night, the statement said, adding Ramaphosa had held meetings with a variety of people in recent weeks.

South Africa currently has 709 confirmed coronavirus cases, with no reported deaths. Health Minister Zweli Mkhize has warned infections are expected to keep rising.

Ramaphosa has been praised for ordering some of the toughest measures on the continent, including a 21-day lockdown that is due to start at midnight on Thursday.

He has also deployed the army to support the police.

Businesses are bracing for the lockdown, with Airlink becoming the latest local airline to suspend flights from midnight on Thursday. State power utility Eskom has applied for its critical staff to be exempt from the stay at home order so electricity supplies can continue uninterrupted. (Reporting by Emma Rumney; Writing by Tim Cocks Editing by Alison Williams and Frances Kerry)

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