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Coronavirus sidelines US ambassador to South Africa; recuperating after ICU stint

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The United States ambassador to South Africa, Lana Marks, spent 10 days in intensive care with COVID-19 and is now recuperating at her residence, she announced Monday.

After first experiencing “fever, chills, a sore throat and fatigue,” Marks went into a hospital on Dec. 28 when her symptoms worsened to receive “supplemental oxygen and therapeutic treatment,” she said in a statement on Twitter.

She was quickly moved to an intensive care unit, where she stayed for 10 days, and then spent a further three days in the COVID-19 unit, she said.

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Marks said she was discharged late last week and is continuing to recuperate at the ambassador’s residence. Her condition is improving and the doctors are confident that she will eventually make a full recovery, she said.

Marks said she will “forever be grateful for the excellent level of care that I received from the South African doctors and nurses,” who treated her in the hospital.

U.S. Ambassador to South Africa Lana Marks posing with ventilators donated by the U.S. Government at OR Tambo Airport Johannesburg on May 11, 2020. Marks, on Monday, Jan. 11, 2021, said she spent 10 days in a South African hospital’s intensive care unit with COVID-19 and is now recuperating at her residence. (Leon Kgoedi/United States Embassy South Africa via AP)

“I am just one of tens of thousands of COVID-19 patients that South Africa’s health care workers and hospitals have treated with the utmost professionalism, putting their own lives at risk in order to practice their calling,” she wrote.

“Having seen them on the front lines of this battle for nearly a year, and now having had my own life in their hands, I will always remember their heroism and dedication and all that they sacrifice and risk as they fight this dangerous illness on behalf of their countrymen,” she said.

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The ambassador’s announcement comes as South Africa is battling a resurgence of COVID-19 that has filled many hospitals to capacity and the numbers of new confirmed cases and hospitalizations are continuing to rise.

She said she made the statement to “further de-stigmatize discussions around COVID-19. Only through sharing information about the virus can we understand how to prevent its spread and treat it.”

U.S. Ambassador to South Africa, Lana Marks, speaking with Americans ahead of their evacuation flight out of Johannesburg.

U.S. Ambassador to South Africa, Lana Marks, speaking with Americans ahead of their evacuation flight out of Johannesburg.
(U.S. Embassy in South Africa)

She urged all in South Africa to take precautions to prevent getting the disease and to abide by South Africa’s regulations, including a night curfew and limits to public gatherings.

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“These regulations are in place to save lives and to keep hospitals available for those who truly need it,” she said. “I am fortunate to have had a bed and a medical team available for me in my time of need. We must all do our utmost to give that same opportunity to those who need it.”

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