Former South African president Nelson Mandela is recovering well from a lung infection that has kept him in a serious condition in hospital for a week.

The comment by his grandson Mandla Mandela was the latest indication that the health of the 94-year-old was showing signs of improvement.

Mr Mandela, South Africa's first black president, has been receiving visits from family members after he was rushed to hospital a week ago with a recurrence of lung problems.

"Madiba is recovering very well and looks good," Mandla Mandela said in Qunu, a village in the Eastern Cape province where Mr Mandela was born and spent his early years.

Speaking in Xhosa at a funeral of another relative, he used the clan name "Madiba" by which Mr Mandela is popularly known.

"I thank the nation and the world for the prayers for Madiba, and the doctors and the office of the ANC for keeping the family updated," he said.

South Africa's government said on Thursday that Mr Mandela was continuing to recover, but his condition remained serious.

Mr Mandela's hospitalisation is his fourth since December and has reinforced growing awareness among South Africa's 53 million people that they will one day have to say goodbye to the father of the "Rainbow Nation" created from the ashes of apartheid.

Mr Mandela has a history of lung problems dating back to his time at the Robben Island prison near Cape Town.

He was released in 1990 after 27 years behind bars and went on to serve as president from 1994 to 1999.