New coronavirus data shows positive signs for South Africa

South Africa’s coronavirus outbreak appears to be slowing, with health officials indicating that a number of provinces have reached or passed their peak.

Confirmed cases in all of the country’s nine provinces have fallen in recent days, with the country recording an additional 2,810 infections on Wednesday. South Africa has now reported a cumulative total of 568,919 cases, with 11,010 deaths recorded.

Data from the South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC) Burden of Disease Research Unit also shows positive signs as the country begins its recovery.

The SAMRC publishes a report on weekly deaths in South Africa, with the information based on data from the Department of Home Affairs of the deaths registered on the National Population Register.

In the latest report, published on 12 August, the SAMRC said that there are hopeful signs of the epidemic reaching its peak in all the provinces by the end of July 2020.

To calculate ‘excess mortality’ in a given period the research team look at the number of people who had died over this period compared to the number we would have expected to have died. The geographic pattern, as well as the age pattern, indicate that the excess deaths are related to Covid-19.

It explained that the epidemic has different trajectories in the provinces.

“The Western Cape, the first province to experience community spread, stands out as having a much slower epidemic. It took several weeks to set in and is now taking time to recede,” said Prof Debbie Bradshaw chief specialist scientist from the SAMRC Burden of Disease Research Unit.

“In contrast, the epidemics in the Eastern Cape, Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal had much quicker increases. We still urge South Africans to continue to wear masks, practice physical distancing, hand hygiene and avoid crowds and congestion.”

Although this data does not have information about the medical cause of death (apart from whether the cause was natural or unnatural), it is invaluable as they provide a near real-time count of the total numbers of deaths from natural and unnatural causes.

“We continue to urge our doctors to ensure accurate completion of deaths certificates especially if it is Covid-19 related, as it will be important in understanding the true impact of the epidemic,” said, Prof Glenda Gray SAMRC president and chief executive.

“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 Gray.

Read: South Africa’s move to lockdown level 2 – what to expect

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New coronavirus data shows positive signs for South Africa