The medical condition of South African icon Nelson Mandela continues to worry the world, and sources report that he continues to experience a problem with fluid buildup in his lungs. Mandela is being treated for pneumonia with oral medication, and the South African government denies the NBC News report.
The 94-year-old was admitted to the hospital late on Wednesday after the recurrence of a lung infection that has dogged him since December. Since then there have been daily updates on his condition.
A South African government spokesman said the former president is breathing without difficulty after being treated.
“He spent part of Family Day [a public holiday in South Africa] today with some members of his family, who appreciate the support they have been receiving from the public,” said a government statement issued on Monday.
According to NBC News health expert Dr. Nancy Snyderman, pneumonia and fluid buildup in the lungs is a common problem in those of Mandela’s age.
She also said his condition could be made worse by the tuberculosis he suffered during his imprisonment.
“It means his lungs are scarred, less spongy and absorbent, and therefore less able to rid themselves of fluid,” she said.
South Africa is holding its collective breath in fear of uprisings and riots that could follow Mandela’s death.
Ernst Roets, deputy executive chief of the South African racial minority rights group AfriForum, told The Guardian that peacekeeping organizations are working to resolve people’s concerns.
“We get a lot of fear,” Roets said. “We do get calls from people saying they’re scared about the day Mandela dies and what they should do. There are fringe organizations that say,’flee the country.’ We are encouraging people to be aware and look after their own safety.”
The South African government issues daily updates on Mandela’s health; that’s how much of a significant figure he is in the country’s culture.
“This is a dangerous country and crime is a problem,” Roets said. “But if we want to make a prediction, there’s not going to be an all-out race war. There might be isolated incidents, but I think most people, white or black, want to live in peaceful coexistence.”
In interview with the BBC last week, President Jacob Zuma suggested that citizens prepare for Mandela’s passing, citing his advanced age. The years since Mandela left South Africa’s political world have been marked by human rights concerns, and some fear that his death could bring about an end to the country’s post-apartheid “golden period.”