As many as 8,000 people may already have died in the Eastern Cape as a result of COVID-19 – almost four times higher than the government’s official numbers. According to a Daily Dispatch report, while official statistics show that more than 2,200 people in the province have succumbed to the coronavirus to date, researchers have shown how the Eastern Cape, along with the rest of South Africa, exhibited a high “excess mortality” rate in June and July compared to death figures for the same period in 2018 and 2019.
COVID-19 is the only difference now in the country compared to previous years. The startling figures emanate from weekly research by a team drawn from the South African Medical Research Council (MRC) and the University of Cape Town's (UCT's) centre for actuarial research.
When the figures were released earlier this month, the focus was on the fall in the weekly number of deaths from COVID-19, with little examination of excess fatalities. Many of the uncounted COVID-19 deaths would have been people who died at home. They may not have attended a hospital, they may have died on the way to hospital before being tested, or they may have been sent home by hospital staff because they were too sick for treatment.
Eastern Cape Health spokesperson Siyanda Manana said there was now no underreporting of deaths. “It happened in the past but that has been sorted,” he said. Manana said health minister Zweli Mkhize's directive that all sudden and home deaths be subjected to COVID-19 testing was being implemented throughout the province. “Deaths are being recorded daily. The districts are adhering to daily reporting,” Manana said.
DA MPL Jane Cowley, who raised the alarm on the probable high number of excess deaths in the Eastern Cape, said that if the figures reported by the research team stood up, it could drive the province’s death toll to “well over 8,000”.
Full Daily Dispatch report