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Mandela shows 'continuous' improvement: Zuma

Nelson Mandela pictured on July 17, 2012, at his home in Qunu, Eastern Cape, South Africa
Nelson Mandela pictured on July 17, 2012, at his home in Qunu, Eastern Cape, South Africa. The former South African president is showing ''continuous improvement'' in hospital where he is being treated for pneumonia, current leader Jacob Zuma says.

Nelson Mandela is showing "continuous improvement" in hospital where he is being treated for pneumonia, the South African president said on Thursday.

"Madiba is stable and we are thankful that he is responding well to treatment and that he is much better," President Jacob Zuma said after visiting the ailing anti-apartheid hero in hospital, referring to the 94-year-old by his clan name.

Zuma said he had received a briefing from doctors which indicated "continuous improvement in his condition".

The Nobel peace laureate was admitted shortly before midnight on March 27, his third hospital stay since December.

To help him breathe without difficulty, doctors last week drained excess fluid that had built up on the lining of Mandela's lungs.

Last month Mandela spent a night in hospital for a scheduled checkup and in December he was admitted for 18 days for a lung infection and gallstones surgery, his longest hospital stay since he walked free from jail in 1990.

Mandela's latest health scare has prompted an outpouring of wishes and prayers, from US President Barack Obama to locals penning messages on flower-bed stones to leave outside his Johannesburg home.

Zuma on Thursday also met members of the Mandela family who "expressed their gratitude for the support from South Africans and people from all over the world."

There was no indication as to when Mandela, South Africa's revered first black president, could be released from hospital.

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