Health Minister Zweli Mkhize has praised globally lauded HIV/Aids scientist Professor Gita Ramjee for her work in the industry.
Mkhize said not only did South Africa lose an experienced and award-winning scientist, but the world had lost an important person in the medical fraternity.
Ramjee died on Tuesday after she tested positive for Covid-19. She had returned to South Africa from a trip to the UK.
"She was well upon her arrival and she later developed [Covid-19] symptoms. It is a serious blow.
"We convey our condolences to her husband, family and colleagues. This shows how serious Covid-19 can be and it can affect everybody," Mkhize said.
He said Ramjee was among the last people he thought could be affected by the virus.
"Her passing leaves us poorer and creates real sense of the seriousness of this virus. We need to be taking all messages about prevention and containment seriously. We thank her for all her contribution she made. She was among the top leaders who was respected globally and locally," said Mkhize.
Many local and international medical institutions have praised Ramjee for her contribution to the industry, especially her experience in finding HIV prevention solutions for women.
Group CEO of The Aurum Institute, Professor Gavin Churchyard, said the world has lost a bold and compassionate leader in the response to HIV.
Churchyard said in a statement on Tuesday that Ramjee was a critical player in the field of HIV prevention clinical trials and was acknowledged internationally for her expertise in the field of microbicide research, including a lifetime achievement award for HIV Prevention.
".... in 2018, Ramjee was honoured with the 'Outstanding Female Scientist' Award by the European Development Clinical Trials Partnerships (EDCTP) for her life's work that has focused on finding new HIV prevention methods," said Churchyard.