Frail Mandela 'responding' to treatment for lung infection
Nelson Mandela is said to be "responding positively" to treatment after being taken to hospital late on Wednesday for a recurring lung infection.
The 94-year-old former South African president, who spent 19 days in hospital over Christmas for the same complaint, is understood to have been on oxygen before being admitted.
He was reportedly put on a ventilator once he arrived.
A friend of Mr Mandela, who saw him earlier in the week, said he had been labouring with a bad cold and was "really not in a good way right now".
Mr Mandela – who was said to have been weakened by the infection in December and who contracted tuberculosis while imprisoned during the anti-apartheid struggles – was reportedly conscious when admitted to hospital.
He was said to be sitting up and talking yesterday afternoon.
Mac Maharaj, a spokesman for President Jacob Zuma, said South Africans should "keep him in their thoughts and prayers".
He said: "I can't say how serious it is. The doctors would prefer to be extremely cautious.
"I haven't spoken to them this morning but I know they will call me if there is an upturn or a downturn."
The president's office has refused to give details of the hospital where Mr Mandela has been taken because previous visits led to a scrum of cameras and journalists waiting at the door for a glimpse of the revered statesman.
Protocol dictates that where possible, he be treated at 1 Military Hospital in Pretoria, the healthcare headquarters for the South African military, which is responsible for the medical care of all former presidents.
However, when Mr Mandela was taken ill in December, he was treated at Pretoria's Heart Hospital. In January 2011, when he developed a chest infection, he spent two days at Milpark Hospital in Johannesburg, an hour south of Pretoria and closest to his home in the suburb of Houghton.
Mr Maharaj said Mr Mandela and his family needed space for him to recover.
"We just try to ensure that Graca (Mr Mandela's wife) is at his bedside – for comfort, not out of concern," he said.
"The president and all of us have a deep affection for Madiba and a lot of concern about him. It's a constant – even when he is not ill.
"The president is always thinking about him and we must all keep him in our thoughts." (© Daily Telegraph, London)