Here’s how many people are dying from Covid-19 in South Africa

 ·21 May 2021

While South Africa has seen an influx of Covid-19 cases as a third wave hits the country, official deaths attributed to the pandemic have climbed.

On Thursday (20 May), the department of health announced that an additional 61 people had died of Covid-19. This follows the reporting of 167 deaths on Wednesday, 80 deaths on Tuesday, and 50 deaths on Monday.

Weekly statistics collated by Jon Hopkins University and Our World in data shows that the country reached an inflection point at the start of May, and has seen a steady increase in mortalities since.

However, this is still well below the 750-plus deaths that were reported daily during the peak of the country’s second covid-19 wave in mid-January.


Excess deaths 

Data from the South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC) shows that the weekly number of deaths from all causes also continued to increase in the week 9-15 May.

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.

“The number of excess deaths of persons 1+ years from natural causes has continued to increase reaching 1,422 in Week 19 (9 – 15 May 2021), following the low in Week 11 (14-20 March) of 1,027,” the group said.

“Since 3 May 2020, there has been a cumulative total of more than 160,000 excess deaths from natural causes of persons 1+ years of age of which more than 77,000 occurred in 2021.”

Commenting on this week’s data, the SAMRC said that the numbers of deaths from natural causes in Free State and Northern Cape are concerningly high.

It added that the North West, Gauteng and Mpumalanga are showing indications of an uptick in the past week.

“As most of the metropolitan areas are tracking to the predicted numbers of natural deaths, the excess deaths appear to be a result of a slow burn in non-metro areas in the country,” it said.

“The provinces with the highest numbers of excess deaths at the end of Week 19 re, in order, KwaZulu-Natal, Eastern Cape and Gauteng.”

Read: New data shows big spike in retrenchments after lockdown in South Africa

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