World-renowned virologist Gita Ramjee dies due to COVID-19

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World-renowned virologist Gita Ramjee dies due to COVID-19

World-renowned virologist Gita Ramjee dies due to COVID-19

Sc BH   ¦    Apr 01, 2020 10:42:10 AM (IST)

World-renowned virologist Gita Ramjee dies due to COVID-19-1Johannesburg: World-renowned virologist Gita Ramjee has become the first Indian-origin South African to have died after contracting the novel coronavirus that has killed five people in the country.

Ramjee, a stellar vaccine scientist and an HIV prevention research leader, had returned from London a week ago but reportedly showed no symptoms of COVID-19.

Ramjee, aged nearly 50 years, 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,” Gray added.

In 2018, 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 acknowledgement of the unwavering determination by a global community to forever change the trajectory of the HIV/AIDS epidemic,” she had said at the time.

Ramjee was married to pharmacist Pravin Ramjee, a South African of Indian descent.

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.

Five South Africans have died from COVID-19 since Sunday, the third day of the lockdown. Over 13,50 cases have been reported in the country so far.

(courtesy PTI)