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South Africa's Ramaphosa self-isolates after dinner guest gets COVID-19

FILE PHOTO: South African President Cyril Ramaphosa visits the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) treatment facilities at the NASREC Expo Centre in Johannesburg, South Africa April 24, 2020. Jerome Delay/Pool via REUTERS

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has gone into quarantine after a guest at a charity dinner he attended tested positive for COVID-19, his office said on Wednesday.

Africa’s most advanced economy has been the continent’s worst hit, with more than 700,000 coronavirus infections and nearly 20,000 deaths, but new cases peaked in late July before falling sharply.

The reduction in new infections enabled Ramaphosa to ease what was one of the world’s toughest lockdowns in September, and the following month South Africa opened its borders to international travellers after a six-month ban.

But last week Health Minister Zweli Mkhize indicated that there was a risk of a second wave of infections that may lead to a review of lockdown restrictions, after they rose sharply in the tourist city of Cape Town.

“President Cyril Ramaphosa has begun a period of self-quarantine following the positive COVID-19 diagnosis of a guest at a dinner attended by the President on Saturday, 24 October 2020,” the statement from his office said.

The dinner had 35 guests and stuck to strict physical distancing protocols, it added.

“The President is showing no symptoms at this time and will, in line with COVID-19 health advice, be tested should symptoms manifest,” it said.

Reporting by Tim Cocks; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore