The South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC) report states that “a significant proportion of the current excess mortality being observed in South Africa is likely to be attributable to Covid-19″.
Out of about 20,063 South Africans who died between December 30 and January 5 – a week – a record 10,907 excess deaths were recorded due to natural causes.
The mortality surveillance report from the Burden of Disease Research Unit at SAMRC confirmed this.
The excess is largely connected to the second wave of Covid-19 infections.
KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) leads the death toll excess deaths due to natural causes, with 3,389. In eThekwini alone, there were 875 excess deaths in the first week of the new year.
The Eastern Cape grew at a slower rate: 2,298 were recorded.
Gauteng increased rapidly with 1,725 excess death while Western Cape recorded 1,432 excess deaths in one week. This more than double the weekly climax of the first wave in July of 601 excess deaths.
Meanwhile, the SAMRC reports that deaths due to unnatural causes (vehicle collisions, murders, suicides, accidents) in the week of 30 December to 5 January fell below the lower bound of predicted unnatural deaths.
SAMRC estimates that there have been 78,000 or 84,000 excess deaths since 6 May, the date at which an uptick in excess deaths was first noted. (The first figure, 78,000, is a comparison against historical data. The second takes into account the fact that mortality actually dropped in the first few weeks of lockdown and uses a different basis of comparison.) About 55,000 of these excess deaths were people over the age of 60, and about 30,000 were people between 1 and 59 years old.
The Minister of Health’s 12 January press release reported that 34,334 people have died of Covid-19. The reason that this is so much lower than the SAMRC estimate is that many people would have died of Covid without being diagnosed.
Also, it’s possible that some people with other diseases did not have the same level of care they might have had before Covid because the hospitals are so stretched.