In a statement on Thursday, the Presidency announced that President Cyril Ramaphosa had tested negative for the novel coronavirus after possibly coming into contact with a political leader who had attended a church service with infected people in the Free State.
Spokesperson Khusela Diko said “the president submitted for testing as a precautionary measure upon the advice of his physicians on Tuesday and received his results last 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,” said Diko.
“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 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.”
On Sunday, the Presidency welcomed the announcement by Rev Kenneth Meshoe, the leader of the African Christian Democratic Party, that he was tested for the coronavirus, which causes Covid-19.
Diko said Meshoe was among the leaders of political parties represented in Parliament who met Ramaphosa in Cape Town last Tuesday.
Meshoe would therefore also have been with the leaders of other major parties, including the EFF’s Julius Malema and interim DA leader John Steenhuisen.
“Rev Meshoe has since confirmed publicly that in the days before the meeting with the president and therefore before the prohibition of public gatherings numbering more than 100 people, he had participated in a religious gathering in the Free State where five international guests subsequently tested positive for the virus.”
Health Minister Zweli Mkhize, speaking to the SABC on Wednesday, said the Free State jumped because of 30 confirmed cases from the church in Bloemfontein. However, Gauteng has remained the epicentre of the outbreak.
The Jerusalem Prayer Breakfast hosted by the Divine Restoration Ministries in Bloemfontein saw five Covid-19-infected foreigners from the US, Israel and France taking part. Government was still looking for some of the 300 people who were there.
ACDP MP Steve Swart and pastor Angus Buchan also attended, and have also been tested.
“The [five foreigners] subsequently developed symptoms and were thereafter quarantined in their rooms at the bed and breakfast they were residing in. Since then they have remained quarantined in that B&B and the staff that come into contact with the patients have also been quarantined within the B&B,” Mkhize said last week.
Diko said Meshoe had thus far been asymptomatic since his participation in that gathering. He, however, announced on social media on Sunday that he had been tested.
Meshoe wrote: “Even though I have no symptoms of #Covid_19SA, I decided to be tested this afternoon. The officials that came were very professional & respectful. After the testing one of them said, “you don’t look like you have the virus, you look strong & healthy for your age.”
Even though I have no symptoms of #Covid_19SA, I decided to be tested this afternoon. The officials that came were very professional & respectful. After the testing one of them said, “you don’t look like you have the virus, you look strong & healthy for your age.” PTL.
— Kenneth Meshoe (@RevMeshoe) March 22, 2020
He had not yet announced his results on Thursday.
The Presidency welcomed Meshoe’s adherence to the testing protocol and wished him well as he awaited his results.