The South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC) has stated that deaths related to Cornavirus in South Africa may be higher than what the official records state as South Africa has reported 60% more deaths from natural causes in the recent weeks. South Africa is reporting more than 10,000 coronavirus cases in a day and is now the worst affected country in Africa and is also in the top 5 most affected countries in the world by the coronavirus.
SAMRC has said in a statement that in the past few weeks the numbers have been increasing relentlessly and by the 2nd week of July there were almost 60% more deaths from natural causes than the expectations based on historic data.
The researchers at SAMRC added that more than 17000 deaths occurred between the start of May to Mid of July and according to them these deaths included those that occurred from conditions that would have been diagnosed and treated if not for the pandemic.
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Professor Bradshaw one of the authors of the study by SAMRC said that these reports have revealed a huge discrepancy between covid19 deaths confirmed by the country and the excess number of natural deaths.
The number of natural deaths suggests there have been 11000 deaths that are still unexplained. South Africa reported 9% fewer deaths on average as compared to previous years, early on in the pandemic, which was attributed to the national lockdown and ban on alcohol.
It is still unclear however if more deaths are happening purely due to the pandemic but researchers believe it could be a factor. There are also some suggestions that people are dying because they are not going to the hospital because of a lack of space or fear of being infected. Professor Glenda Gray, the president of SAMRC, said the higher number of deaths may be attributed to both coronavirus deaths as well as non-coronavirus deaths due to other diseases including HIV, TB, and non-communicable diseases.
South Africa is the most affected country by the virus on the African Continent. President of South Africa Cyril Ramaphosa imposed a strict lockdown and even banned the sale of alcohol and cigarettes at the end of March to ease pressure on health workers.
Soldiers enforced the lockdown on the streets to bring the outbreak under control. However, as the lockdown was eased and the business reopened the authorities also lifted the ban on alcohol.
Ramaphosa reintroduced the ban on alcohol in July as the country faced a shortage of hospital beds and the state hospitals, on which 80% of the population of South Africa depend, faced unprecedented strain. As of now, there are nearly 395,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus in South Africa including 5940 deaths according to the state. Cases of coronavirus are increasing at a rate of 10,000 per day.
The president has made repeated appearances on the Television to make appeals to the people to wash their hands, wear face masks, and adopt social distancing measures. But there is a significant downfall in the confidence in the government’s ability to counter the virus as the overcrowded minibusses and taxis are allowed to operate with minimal restrictions and also religious services are allowed to be held.
The center of the outbreak of coronavirus in South Africa is currently Gauteng which is the country’s most populous province and economic powerhouse. The business district of Johannesburg, South Africa’s commercial capital, has also been badly hit by the outbreak as has the city of Soweto.
There are now more than 770,000 confirmed covid19 cases across Africa with nearly 400,000 in South Africa alone. The World Health Organization (WHO) at the start of July said the five countries in Africa including Egypt, Nigeria, Algeria, Ghana, and South Africa account for at least 70% of the coronavirus cases in the whole continent.