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Nelson Mandela discharged from hospital

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Nelson Mandela discharged from hospital

  • Mandela in 1990.
    Festival Karsh Ottawa/FlickrMandela in 1990.

Nelson Mandela was discharged from a South African hospital Friday after treatment for an acute respiratory infection, the nation's surgeon general said.

Concern over Mandela, an apartheid-era icon, remained high over the past two days, with reports Thursday that he was recovering from a collapsed lung.

Mandela was admitted to the Milpark hospital in  Johannesburg for what were described as "routine medical tests."

The former South African president was admitted to the hospital Wednesday and South African media report that he had been seen by a specialist pulmonologist who treats respiratory disorders.

The media gathered outside the Milpark hospital on Thursday to wait for news about the 92-year-old.

President Jacob Zuma and the ruling African National Congress (ANC) appealed for calm on Thursday after the hospitalisation set off speculation in local media about Mandela's health.

"President Mandela is comfortable and is well looked after by a good team of medical specialists," Zuma said in a statement. 

An ANC spokesman on Wednesday insisted that Mandela was not in danger.

"He is a 92-year-old and will have ailments associated with his age and the fact that he stayed the night should not suggest the worst," said Jackson Mthembu. 

"We urge people not to make unfounded statements, let's remain calm and not press panic buttons because there is no reason to do so."

The 92-year-old's ex-wife, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, arrived at Milpark hospital Thursday morning.

A statement released by Mandela's foundation Wednesday said he was "undergoing routine tests."

Mandela was "in no danger and is in good spirits," Sello Hatang, spokesman for the Nelson Mandela Foundation, said in a statement.

Mandela, the first black president of South Africa and one of the world's most revered statesmen, lives in Johannesburg.

He spent 27 years in prison after being arrested for plotting an armed struggle against the apartheid government. His release in 1990 paved the way for the end of white rule and he became president in 1994.

He stepped down after one term in power in 1999 and retired from public life in June 2004 ahead of his 86th birthday, telling his adoring compatriots: "Don't call me, I'll call you."

Since then he has rarely appeared in public and when he did, appeared increasingly frail.

South Africa's President Jacob Zuma won't be returning from the World Economic Forum in Davos, SAPA reported, citing Zizi Kodwa, his spokesman.

The Nobel Peace Prize winner was last seen in public at the soccer World Cup Final in July last year, when he was briefly driven around the field on the back of a golf cart.

Close family members, including his wife Graca Machel, and several grandchildren and great-grandchildren, visited him during the course of Wednesday afternoon, prompting speculation that his condition was worse than initially reported.

According to The Australian newspaper, Archbishop Desmond Tutu sparked intense debate earlier Wednesday about Mandela's health after he replied to questions from reporters. "I saw him last week," Archbishop Tutu said in Cape Town. "He was all right — I mean, he's 92, man, you know? And he's frail."

This article originally appeared on GlobalPost.

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