31 Mar 2013

Mandela now breathing without difficulty

8:28 am on 31 March 2013

The South African government says former president Nelson Mandela is now breathing without difficulty as he continues to respond to treatment in hospital for a recurrence of pneumonia.

The 94-year-old is spending a third day in hospital, where he is in a comfortable condition and is continuing to respond to treatment, a government statement said.

It said Mr Mandela had developed a pleural effusion - excess fluid in the lungs which had been drained to enable him to breathe more easily.

There are no details yet on how long he will remain in the unnamed hospital, the BBC reports.

After Mr Mandela was admitted late on Wednesday, President Jacob Zuma urged people not to panic.

Mr Mandela first contracted tuberculosis in the 1980s while detained on Robben Island. His lungs are said to have been damaged while working in a prison quarry.

This latest spell in hospital is his fourth in just over two years. In December 2012, he was treated for a lung infection and gallstones - his longest period in hospital since leaving prison in 1990. He was treated for a stomach condition in February this year.

Nelson Mandela served as South Africa's first black president from 1994 to 1999 and is regarded by many as the father of the nation for leading the struggle against apartheid.