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SA’s Covid-19 deaths surpass 35 000, with record 806 new fatalities

But virus toll could be much higher with a surge in ‘excess deaths’.
Image: Getty Images

South Africa had its deadliest day yet in terms of Covid-19 deaths on Wednesday, with Health Minister Zweli Mkhize reporting a record 806 newly-confirmed fatalities linked to the virus.

This takes the country’s Covid-19 death toll past the psychological 35 000 mark, with Mkhize’s daily update confirming 35 140 coronavirus deaths since the outbreak of the pandemic locally in March last year.

While this is the official number actual Covid-19 deaths are likely to be much higher, with the South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC) noting a record spike in “excess deaths” for the period December 30, 2020 to January 5, 2021 in its weekly report on deaths in the country, published on Wednesday.

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Mkhize’s latest update reported 18 555 new Covid-19 infections, taking the number of “active cases” countrywide to over 212 000.

South Africa has recorded 1 278 303 positive Covid-19 cases, from 7 358 741 tests conducted since the pandemic hit its shores 10 months ago. However, there has been 1 030 930 recoveries during this time, representing a recovery rate of 80.6%.

The economic hub and most populous province of Gauteng accounts for over 27% (346 482) of total confirmed Covid-19 cases. KwaZulu-Natal, which now accounts for 20.7% (264 532) of cases since the outbreak, has surpassed the Western Cape (19.4% or 248 339 cases).

KwaZulu-Natal is also the current epicentre of the virus in SA, with a surge in new infections and the highest number of active Covid-19 cases (69 559) at present among the provinces.

The peak Christmas and New Year holiday period likely contributed to the spike, as holidaymakers headed to the coast and migrant workers went to their home towns.

Read: Alcohol sales remain banned and most beaches closed

KwaZulu-Natal is still reporting the highest number of new infections, with 5 432 confirmed cases on Wednesday, followed by Gauteng (5 022) and the Western Cape (2 913).

Gauteng is bracing for its second-wave pandemic peak as workers return from their holidays and home towns. The province now has the second highest number of active Covid-19 cases (47 919), followed by the Western Cape (42 473).

Of the 806 new Covid-19 deaths confirmed by Mkhize on Wednesday, KwaZulu-Natal accounted for 235 and Gauteng for 211. The Western Cape and Eastern Cape had 151 and 150 fatalities, respectively.

Worrying trend

Meanwhile, the SAMRC’s latest report on excess deaths in South Africa shows a worrying trend.

Compiled by the council’s Burden of Disease Research Unit, the report says the weekly number of deaths of persons over one year of age from all causes continued to increase in the week December 30, 2020 to January 5, 2021, with the country experiencing a record number of 20 063 deaths in a single week.

“During the week including New Year’s Day the number of natural deaths exceeded the predicted number by 131%, resulting in an excess of 10 907 deaths from natural causes,” it notes.

“KwaZulu-Natal has experienced a rapid increase in natural deaths. The number of excess natural deaths in the week of December 30, 2020 to January 5, 2021 reached a record high of 3 389, more than double the peak of the first wave of 1 306 deaths,” the report says.

“Deaths from natural causes have increased rapidly in Gauteng in the past three weeks, with 1 725 excess deaths during the week of New Year. Similar upticks have been experienced in the City of Johannesburg, Ekurhuleni and the City of Tshwane, each with an excess of about 500 deaths,” it adds.

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Catching Peru for 14th place in the world total death rate at a rapid pace now !!
Might even surpass Germany in a week or 2.

At one stage we were in 5th place.

Oops! Was referring to case numbers. But bear in mind Peru has a population of 33 million. Their death rate per million is currently 1156, ours is 589. Numbers need to be put into context.

Our official death rate is misleading and typical of ‘communistic tendencies’ of hiding the truth and always wanting to present things as rosy when they are not.
The Covid death rate is more than 100K, not this lie of 35K. How else can you explain these excess deaths during this vicious 2nd wave?

Official death rate in the Western and Eastern Cape is already over 1250 / Million. If you use US CDC Infection Fatality Ration (IFR) figures which they present per age group we have one of the worst situations in the world considering our average age is something like 27.

Let’s try to do some arithmetic today:

Based on INFECTIONS (not deaths):

SA recorded 1,780,000 infections thus far (since Mar 2019). Ten months ago. Annualize it, and we assume come March 2021 SA will pass 1,533,000 infections. Let’s round it up to R1,6million.

OK, we know SA has a population of around 58 million.

To determine the TIME (in years) you may become infected statistically, you take 58mil and divide it by 1,6mil per annum.

= 36 YEARS (the time it would take to infect EVERYONE in SA) at the current linear spread rate.

The only caveat would be, if it’s not linear but incremental. But still.

Based on DEATHS:

35,000 covid related deaths recorded (possibly including many that died in vehicle-related accidents, and/or were already facing death with existing health problems / result of old age)

35,000 as % of 58million = factor of 0,0006 (or 0,06% percent). Or alternatively put…one in every 1,657 people died of Covid.

Hmmm…scary perhaps, but many of those co-morbid deaths would’ve occurred in say the next 5 years for example, now being “hauled in” earlier thanks to Covid.

All I can say, the damage to the SA economy is not a drop of 0,06%…..it’s way way worse than that.

Some economists have mentioned 8% drop in econ activity. EIGHT PERCENT!!!

Let’s work that 8% back as a Covid versus population….an 8% cull ratio would imply 4,6-million would’ve died by now.

Conclusion: the economy ‘dies’ at a greater rate, than the death rate of people’s lives.

(Yes, an economy can recover, and Covid 19 deaths cannot. Accepted. But let’s not forget the impact of SA civiliation getting poorer, with more unable to afford medical care, and the state funding ability for public hospitals is impeded. This means a generally poorer country = leading to earlier mortality in future)

This is truly a tragedy and my sincerest condolences to all who have lost family and friends. As a retired doctor I must say that I remain astounded at our( and many other countries) death rate compared to say Israel/Netherlands/Germany.

It appears that certain countries medical guidelines are more effective than others(including ours) and we need to urgently find out what they are doing more effectively and see if we can replicate this -and quickly

Their Government isn’t called ANC..

They also do not steal PPE’s or entire GDP’s

Excess deaths will include the consequences of failing to identify the vulnerable and high risk individuals and sectors. It will include the increase of heart attack and cancer deaths and many other causes due to impeded access to essential health care. It will include the increase of suicides due to untreated mental health issues such as depression and despair induced by loss of income, inability to support dependants, damage to relationships, fear propagated endlessly by the media and many more.
The myopia of the number crunchers does not end there. There is no accounting for the known fact that PCR testing of a person that has recovered from this or similar infection will produce a false positive.
The race to induce hysteria into the population knows no bounds and is evidently being paid for handsomely judging by the interminable efforts involved.

End of comments.

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