Mandela on mend and ‘in good spirits’

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Nelson Mandela is in good spirits and making steady progress during hospital treatment for a recurring lung infection, officials in South Africa said..

The 94-year-old former president enjoyed a full breakfast yesterday morning, according to a statement from the office of president Jacob Zuma.

Mr Zuma’s office says Mr Mandela’s doctors provided the update on his condition, and that the anti-apartheid leader remains under treatment and observation.

Mr Mandela was admitted on Wednesday night to a hospital in Pretoria, the South African capital. It is his third trip to hospital since December.

The Zuma statement said: “We would like to repeat our appeal for the media and the public to respect the privacy of Madiba and his family,” using Mr Mandela’s clan name, a term of affection.

In December, Mr Mandela spent three weeks in hospital in Pretoria, where he was treated for a lung infection and had a procedure to remove gallstones. Earlier this month, he was in hospital overnight for what authorities said was a successful, scheduled medical test.

The Nobel Peace Prize laureate has been particularly vulnerable to respiratory problems since contracting tuberculosis during his 27-year imprisonment for fighting white racist rule in his country.

US president Barack Obama said yesterday he was concerned about Mr Mandela’s health, but noted he was as strong physically as he has been in leadership and character. Mr Obama said he was sending his thoughts and prayers to Mr Mandela, and described him as a hero and an inspiration who gave everything to his people.

Mr Zuma’s office said doctors were acting with extreme caution because of the advanced age of Mr Mandela, who has become increasingly frail in recent years.

The man who became South Africa’s first black president in 1994 is a revered figure in his homeland.