[imagesource: AP Photo/Themba Hadebe]
If you keep abreast of the news, you’ll see the latest stats surrounding South Africa’s confirmed COVID-19 cases and deaths each day.
Thankfully, the numbers released last night show a marked drop, with ‘just’ 4 551 new cases confirmed, and 243 more deaths.
South Africa currently has 1 417 537 confirmed cases, 134 999 of which are considered active, and a total of 41 117 confirmed deaths.
Of course, those numbers aren’t right on the money, and throughout the pandemic, the country’s rapid rise in excess deaths has been under the spotlight.
Stats from late December and into early January showed a massive spike in recorded deaths, especially in areas hardest hit by COVID-19.
Now the latest weekly South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC) mortality report, showing data up until January 16, shows that there have been 106 000 excess deaths between May 3, 2020, and January 16 of this year.
GroundUp, using various methodologies, estimates that more than 100 000 South Africans have probably died of COVID-19 already:
The health department’s confirmed Covid-19 death toll is a bit over 40,000. This undercount is primarily because many people die without having being diagnosed with Covid-19.
There were over 16,000 excess deaths in the week ending 10 January, worse than the grim record set the previous week. To put this into perspective, that’s more than 2,000 excess deaths daily, more than double the worst weeks of the HIV epidemic in the mid-2000s…
In the worst week of the first Covid-19 wave in July, there were about 6,500 deaths. In other words the second wave peak will be at least double that. As of the week ending 16 January it is not clear yet if the peak of the second wave has been reached.
Yet another reminder that, despite talk of vaccine arrival being on the horizon, we are nowhere near the home stretch.
Your ‘no worse than the flu’ deniers love to talk about COVID-19 deaths being overreported, but health professionals worth their salt know it’s actually the opposite of that.
In a second story on GroundUp, it’s reported that according to SAMRC, close to 85 000 people over 60 have probably died from COVID-19 infections in South Africa since last May.
That’s around 1,5% of the total population over 60, in a country where many elderly people are still the primary breadwinners and primary caregivers:
The elderly cannot simply isolate – many are integral to raising children. An April 2020 report by the Gauteng City-Region Observatory found, for instance, that 42% of Gauteng’s elderly live with children under the age of 18.
According to the 2018 South African Child Gauge, published by the University of Cape Town’s Children’s Institute, “Over 7 million children live in households where the household head is defined as their grandparent or great-grandparent…”
You can read that full report here.
Long before a vaccine arrives in South Africa and is effectively rolled out, there will be many more deaths among the elderly, with a devastating knock-on effect for families.
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