SAMRC report: COVID-19 death toll may be higher than reported

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COVID-19 has sent the number of deaths in South Africa “significantly higher than the predicted number based on historical data”. The Times reports that the Medical Research Council‘s weekly report on deaths said there was an upward trend in all provinces except Mpumalanga, the Northern Cape and North West.

Between 6 May (when the COVID-19 death toll was 152) and 23 June (when it was 2,102), there had been an “excess” of 4,039 deaths from natural causes, the report said. The authors of the report said: “This … is an estimate of the number of deaths in excess of expectation due to the COVID-19 epidemic and not of those infected with the Sars-CoV-2 virus alone. It includes incidental deaths resulting from such things as shortage of health care and medications due to either the demands on the health systems by the virus or strategies to combat the epidemic.”

The report highlighted the Western Cape, the Eastern Cape, Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal as provinces experiencing an excess number of natural deaths. Authors Debbie Bradshaw, Ria Laubscher, Rob Dorrington, Pam Groenewald and Tom Moultrie, from the MRC burden of disease research unit, cautioned that the statistics in the report should be regarded as estimates.

As of Tuesday 30 June, 2,657 people had died of COVID-19 nationwide, and the daily increase of 128 was a record. About 70% of deaths have been in the Western Cape.

Full report in The Times


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