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Mandela has lost his sparkle, says wife


Former South African President Nelson Mandela, 94, who has been in hospital since Saturday for tests, has suffered a recurrence of a lung infection but he is responding to treatment, the government said yesterday.

The revered anti-apartheid leader and Nobel Peace laureate  according to the Nation is spending his fourth day in hospital in the capital, Pretoria.

 Known affectionately by his clan name “Madiba”, Mandela remains a hero to many of South Africa’s 52 million people and two brief stretches in hospital in the past two years made front page news.

“Doctors have concluded the tests and these have revealed a recurrence of a previous lung infection, for which Madiba is receiving appropriate treatment and he is responding to the treatment,” the government said in a statement.

Mandela was admitted to the Pretoria military hospital on Saturday after being flown from his home village of Qunu in a remote part of the Eastern Cape province.

Until now, authorities had given few details about the reason for his latest visit to hospital.

In an interview broadcast on South Africa’s eNCA television channel, Mandela’s Mozambican-born wife Graca said the former president’s “sparkle” was fading.

When he was admitted to hospital on Saturday, officials stressed there was no cause for concern although domestic media reports suggested senior members of the government and people close to him had been caught unawares.

On the streets, ordinary South Africans crossed their fingers for his recovery. Leading cartoonist Zapiro depicted Mandela asleep in his hospital bed with hundreds of “Get Well” cards flying through the window like a flock of birds.

“He’s old and I hope he gets better soon. He means a lot to the world,” 25-year-old legal researcher Liezel Jacobs said.

Respiratory tract infection is an infectious disease involving the respiratory tract, Consultant Chest Physician, Prince Ele said yesterday.

According to him, an infection of this type can be classified either as upper respiratory tract infection (URI or URTI) or lower respiratory tract infection (LRI or LRTI).

He said lower respiratory infections, such as pneumonia, tend to be far more serious conditions than upper respiratory infections, such as the common cold.

He said the infections are anatomically different, as such can be as a result of bacteria or viruses, adding that it could be acute or chronic.

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