Thembelani Nxesi, minister of labour contracts COVID-19

Thembelani Nxesi, South Africa’s Minister of Employment and Labour has tested positive for COVID-19, the government announced on Friday.

The minister received his results earlier Friday after receiving the 4th round of tests since the outbreak of the virus in early March, government spokesperson Phumla Williams said in a statement.

Nxesi is in self-isolation and will continue to work from home, said Williams.

All members of his office, who have come in contact with him will also undergo testing, she said.

“The minister remains in high spirits and confident that he will beat the virus,” Williams said.

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Nxesi is the fifth member of the Executive to contract the coronavirus.

Minister of Defence and Military Veterans Mapisa-Nqakula; Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy Gwede Mantashe; Deputy Minister for Social Development Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu and Deputy Minister of Justice and Correctional Services Nkosi Holomisa had all contracted the virus.

“Minister Mapisa-Nqakula and Deputy Minister Holomisa have since recovered and we wish our other colleagues, including Minister Nxesi, a speedy recovery,” Williams said.

She urged South Africans to play their part by giving earnest support to those who are fighting this virus.

“In protecting ourselves, our families and communities, let us continue to observe all health protocols and regularly wash our hands, properly wear our masks and practice physical distancing. Together, we can beat the coronavirus,” said Williams.

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In addition to the five cabinet members, three provincial premiers — the Western Cape Premier Allan Winde, North Western Premier Tebogo Mokgoro and Gauteng Premier David Makhura — also tested positive for the virus earlier this month.

All of them have mild symptoms.

The transmissions among senior politicians highlight the seriousness of the escalating pandemic in South Africa, the worst affected country on the African continent.

As of Thursday, South Africa recorded 324,221 confirmed cases and 4,669 related deaths.