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Mandela Spends Second Day in Hospital for Lung Infection

South Africa's First Black Leader Nelson Mandela
South Africa's first black leader Nelson Mandela. Photographer: Naashon Zalk/Bloomberg

Nelson Mandela’s doctors say he’s “making steady progress” as he spent a second day in the hospital for a lung infection, a spokesman for South African President Jacob Zuma said.

Mandela, South Africa’s first black president, is “in good spirits and enjoyed a full breakfast this morning,” spokesman Mac Maharaj said today in an e-mailed statement.

Mandela, 94, was admitted before midnight local time on March 27, his second hospital visit this year after a check-up less than three weeks ago. His health took a “downturn” that day and he was brought to the hospital to prevent the infection from spreading, Maharaj told Johannesburg-based broadcaster eNCA yesterday.

“We appeal to the people of South Africa and the world to pray for our beloved Madiba and his family,” Zuma said yesterday, using Mandela’s clan name. “We have full confidence in the medical team.”

The Nobel Peace Prize-winner was hospitalized from Dec. 8 to Dec. 26 to treat a lung infection and to have gallstones removed. He contracted tuberculosis while imprisoned on Robben Island during his 27-year incarceration for fighting white minority rule. Mandela led South Africa for five years after the African National Congress, or ANC, won the first all-race elections in 1994 that marked the end of apartheid rule.

He spent a night in a Pretoria hospital on March 9 for scheduled medical tests.

In Washington, President Barack Obama yesterday said he hoped Mandela will pull through, as he has from previous health threats.

“We will be keeping him in our thoughts and prayers,” Obama said at the White House during a meeting with leaders of four sub-Saharan African nations.

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