Nelson Mandela is back in the hospital for the second time this month, seeking treatment for a lung infection. While a government spokesperson says that Mandela is "responding positively" to treatment, the late-night hospitalization is seen as potentially serious given the 94-year-old's advanced age. Striking BBC journalists and staffers have gone as far as to confirm that they'd return to work in the event of the former South African president's death.
Here's the official statement from the South African president's office on Mandela's seemingly sudden hospitalization:
Doctors are attending to him, ensuring that he has the best possible expert medical treatment and comfort. President Zuma has wished Madiba a speedy recovery. "We appeal to the people of South Africa and the world to pray for our beloved Madiba and his family and to keep them in their thoughts. We have full confidence in the medical team and know that they will do everything possible to ensure recovery," said President Zuma. The Presidency appeals once again for understanding and privacy in order to allow space to the doctors to do their work."
As CNN explains, Mandela has suffered from respiratory problems since his 27-year imprisonment for fighting South Africa's apartheid. In prison, he contracted tuberculosis. Last December, Mandela was hospitalized for three weeks, and was treated for a lung infection and gallstones. It's understood that his heath is deteriorating, as the increasing frequency of his hospitalizations indicate. His most recent public appearance was in 2010, during the World Cup in South Africa.