Indian-Origin Virologist in South Africa dies Of Coronavirus complications

Indian-Origin Virologist in South Africa dies Of Coronavirus complications

Virologist Gita Ramjee has become the first Indian-origin South African to have died after contracting the novel coronavirus that has killed five in the country. Ms. Ramjee, a vaccine scientist and an HIV prevention research leader, returned from London a week ago but reportedly showed no symptoms of COVID-19.

Ms. Ramjee, 64, was the Clinical Trials Unit Principal Investigator and Unit Director of the HIV Prevention Research Unit of the South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC) offices in Durban.

"We are deeply saddened to inform you of the tragic passing of Prof Gita Ramjee in hospital today," said a statement issued by SAMRC President and CEO Glenda Gray. "Prof Ramjee died of COVID-19 related complications," Ms. Gray added.

In 2018, Ms. Ramjee was presented with the Outstanding Female Scientist Award in Lisbon by the European Development Clinical Trials Partnerships (EDCTP) for her lifetime commitment to finding new HIV prevention methods, which are conducive to the lifestyles, circumstances and perceived risk factors that South African women are faced with.

"This award is an acknowledgment of the unwavering determination by a global community to forever change the trajectory of the HIV/AIDS epidemic," she had said at the time.

Her funeral arrangements have not been announced. Attendance at funerals in South Africa is highly restricted and requires permits as the country is going through a 21-day nationwide lockdown announced last week by President Cyril Ramaphosa.