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File picture: IANS

Continued drop in Covid-19, excess deaths a ’turning point’

By Staff Reporter Time of article published Aug 13, 2020

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Cape Town – The SA Medical Research Council (SAMRC) is hopeful that a turning point has been reached in the Covid-19 pandemic, according to its latest weekly report on excess deaths.

This comes as the number of excess deaths has continued to drop since the week starting July 15.

When compared with the predicted figures, there was an excess of 4 673 deaths in the latest week compared with 5 533 in the preceding week, the report said. It said the trends in all provinces have plateaued or declined.

Data supplied by the SA Medical Research Council

The excess natural deaths from May 6 increased to 33 478 compared to confirmed Covid-19 deaths of 8 884, which “suggests some Covid-19 deaths that occur in the community are not reported’’ and that “there may be collateral impact of the Covid-19 epidemic”.

The decrease in the number of estimated excess deaths is consistent with the trend in the number of confirmed Covid-19 deaths.

“This week’s report shows hopeful signs of the epidemic reaching its peak in all the provinces by the end of July 2020,” the SAMRC said.

“The downward turn of deaths is a positive sign that the virus may have peaked in some parts of the country and is in keeping with the epidemiological models of the epidemic,” said SAMRC president and chief executive Professor Glenda Gray.

Data supplied by the SA Medical Research Council

’’Trends in all provinces have plateaued or declined during the week ending August 4. The numbers of weekly deaths from natural causes are all significantly higher than predicted — excepting for Limpopo, which is now below the upper prediction bound,’’ the report said.

“Compared with the predicted number of natural deaths from historical data in the week ending August 4, Free State had 118% more, Gauteng had 102% more, Eastern Cape had 96% more, KwaZulu-Natal had 69% more, Mpumalanga had 63% more, Northern Cape had 51% more, North West had 38% more, Western Cape had 37% more and Limpopo had 15% more,” said the report.

Professor Debbie Bradshaw, chief specialist scientist of the SAMRC's burden of disease research unit, said the Western Cape, the first province to become the epicentre of ’’community spread’’, stands out as having a much slower epidemic.

“It took several weeks to set in and is now taking time to recede. In contrast, the epidemics in the Eastern Cape, Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal had much quicker increases.”

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