[imagesource: Nardus Engelbrecht / AP]
South Africans may be rejoicing at the prospect of dropping to alert level 3 at the end of the month (well, most of South Africa), but we shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that the toughest part of the battle still lies ahead.
Our national death toll stands at 312 (as of Wednesday morning), but that is set to spike in the coming months, and some of the numbers being talked about are frightening.
According to a presentation last night, during a virtual meeting co-ordinated by Health Minister Zweli Mkhize and given by the SA COVID-19 modelling consortium, consisting of scientists and experts advising the government, more than 40 000 people are expected to die by November.
I’m sure your friend shared a great YouTube video by some doctor nobody has ever heard of that says otherwise, but I’ll trust the experts on this one.
The presentation was led by Dr Sheetal Silal, reports News24:
Based on a pessimistic projection, there might be between 45 000 and 48 000 deaths by November, she added. “Even these projections may change as interventions come into play and transitioning to different levels [of lockdown] in the future,” Silal said, painting a grim picture of how the coronavirus will peak in South Africa this coming winter.
She added projections showed there would be 30 000 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in South Africa by the end of May with one million cases projected by June and July.
As has been repeatedly stated by scientists and data analysts, these projections are based on the best data available, and are subject to change as they learn more about the nature of the virus.
That spike in infections is going to cause havoc in ICU units around the country, and Silal says their projections show that all ICU beds would be full by the start of July at the latest, and additional beds would need to be added to cope.
Silal added all scenarios pointed out hospital and ICU capacity would be exceeded. “When you talk about capacity it is important to realise that it is not just about beds available, ventilators or oxygen available. It is also about the staff to manage those patients in each of those required services. It is important to realise that staff is the least fungible.”
Silal says that the data suggests provinces will experience their peaks at different times, depending on the lockdown measures enacted in each.
There were some positives presented during the virtual meeting, not least of which was South Africa’s success thus far at flattening the curve.
Here’s the Daily Maverick:
The modelling consortium says that the five-week lockdown has worked to flatten the Covid-19 curve in South Africa, while Mkhize showed charts which revealed that the Southern African Development Community (SADC) has the lowest case fatality rate of all regions in the world – 1.9%, compared with 2.9% for the rest of Africa and 8.8% for Europe.
In addition, Mkhize said in his presentation that the rate of increased cases per week was at manageable levels. While hospitals report an increased caseload, the actual ICU ward utilisation is still low but projected to grow very fast…
The Minister of Health was blunt, though, when he said the case numbers will rise, and we should expect outbreaks.
Here’s Dr Silal’s full presentation, with a closer look at those projections:
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