Eastern Cape surpasses Gauteng in Covid-related deaths with the second wave likely to exceed first peak

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SA can learn from Europe's Covid-19 second wave. (Picture: Gallo Images)
SA can learn from Europe's Covid-19 second wave. (Picture: Gallo Images)


The Eastern Cape now officially has the highest number of Covid-19-related deaths in the country, overtaking Gauteng.

The latest figures show the province recorded overall Covid-19 deaths at 5 116, with Gauteng at 5 069 and the Western Cape at 4 918. 

There are 22 574 recorded Covid-19 deaths across the country since the first death was recorded in March.

According to the Eastern Cape department of health’s own epidemiological report released on Wednesday, in the past 24 hours, 82 deaths were reported in the province.

The report said the number of deaths had significantly increased in November and December, especially in districts with high rates of infection, and that, as the number of cases increase, so will the mortality rate.

“Of the 18 656 hospitalisations, 67% occurred in the public sector and 33% in the private sector. About 43.3% of the hospitalisations occurred in Nelson Mandela Metro and 23.1% in Buffalo City Metro.

“About 61.5% of the hospitalised patients were discharged and 25.9% demised due to Covid-19 related causes. About 72.4% of the deaths occurred in public-sector facilities and 27.6% in private-sector facilities,” read the report in part.

The report states that nurses were the most affected, followed by doctors and clinical associates.

There is an increase in the Covid-19 positivity rate among healthcare workers in the Nelson Mandela Bay and Buffalo City metros.

At least 6.4% of the active 8 850 Covid-19 cases were healthcare workers and 1.7% (153) of healthcare workers passed away, says the report.

It pointed out that identification, investigation and public health response to clusters and outbreaks was critical in containing transmission. Cases in colleges, schools and other high transmission contexts needed to be managed timeously to prevent larger outbreaks.

“The second peak of the pandemic is more likely to exceed the first peak, which occurred during the June-July period. The key risk factors are associated with the relaxation of the lockdown restrictions.

“These factors may include failure to use the non-pharmaceutical prevention strategies, wearing of masks, social distancing and hand washing or sanitation, mass gatherings at funerals and memorials, parties, bashes with famous artists or DJs, and high mobility rates,” read the department of health daily report.

DA spokesperson on health in the Eastern Cape, Jane Cowley, said it was tragic that so many people in the province have lost their lives to the virus.

“The death toll comes despite having almost half the number of Covid-19 recorded cases thanGauteng has,” Cowley said.

The Eastern Cape has 140 647 confirmed cases, while Gauteng has a total of 240 261 confirmed cases.

Cowley said the epidemiological report from the department of health also gave a list of key areas that required improvement in terms of the health department’s response to the pandemic, which included collection and testing of specimens, prioritising contact tracing, isolating positive cases and isolating contacts to minimise transmission among others.

“It is deeply concerning that these key areas for improvement have been the same throughout the pandemic, with no tangible improvement in any of these areas … I will write to Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize and request intervention from a national level to address the issues of administration and management in the health department in our province, as our citizens deserve a functional and capacitated healthcare service,” said Cowley.

The Nelson Mandela Bay Metro and Sarah Baartman District Municipality were identified as Covid-19 hotspots in the province, leading to President Cyril Ramaphosa last week announcing that stricter regulations would be instituted in those areas.


Lubabalo Ngcukana 


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