South Africa sees spike in Covid-19 deaths as peak hits

 ·14 Jan 2021

South Africa has reported an increase in the number of Covid-19 deaths as the country faces the peak of its second infection wave.

On Wednesday (13 January) the country reported a daily increase of 806 new deaths. This follows an increase of 755 new deaths on Tuesday. Total deaths reported in the country now stands at 35,140.

Data from the South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC) shows that the weekly number of deaths from all causes continued to increase in the week of 30 December 2020 – 5 January 2021, with the country experiencing a record number of 20,063 deaths over this period.

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, the SAMRC said.

It added that from 6 May 2020 – 5 January 2021, there have been a total of 83,918 reported excess deaths from natural causes across the country.

Deaths recorded on the National Population Register are provided to the SAMRC on a weekly basis.

These have been scaled up to estimate the actual number of deaths by accounting for the people who are not on the population register and the under-registration of deaths.

The estimated numbers are compared with the number that would be expected based on the historical data from 2018 and 2019.

Eastern Cape

The SAMRC’s data shows that deaths from natural causes in the Eastern Cape have continued to increase slowly with 2,298 excess natural deaths experienced in the week 30 December 2020 – 5 January 2021 compared to 2,228 in the previous week and may be showing the early signs of turning.

The numbers of deaths in the second wave is considerably higher than the number of excess natural deaths that occurred in the peak of the first wave in the province (1,597).

Natural deaths in Nelson Mandela Bay have continued to decrease and the second wave in Buffalo City has turned.


The data shows that KwaZulu-Natal has experienced a rapid increase in natural deaths.

The number of excess natural deaths in the week of 30 December 2020 – 5 January 2021 reached a record high of 3,389, more than double the peak of the first wave of 1,306 deaths.

The number of deaths from natural causes in eThekwini has also increased rapidly reaching 875 excess natural deaths, considerably higher than the peak of the first wave when there were 363 excess deaths.

Western Cape 

Natural deaths in the Western Cape also continued to increase rapidly, with 1,432 excess natural deaths occurring during the week of new year.

The SAMRC said that there are indications of a slow-down in the increase, but the number of deaths has not yet turned and is more than double than the peak of the first wave (601).

The number of natural deaths in the City of Cape Town has also increased rapidly with a record number of excess deaths (943).


Deaths from natural causes also climbed rapidly in Gauteng over the past three weeks, with 1,725 excess deaths during the first week of new year. Similar upticks have been experienced in the City of Johannesburg, Ekhuruleni and the City of Tshwane, each with an excess of approximately 500 deaths.

Read: Dlamini-Zuma extends South Africa’s national state of disaster by another month

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