Excess deaths 'only an estimate' and not confirmed Covid-19 deaths - health department

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Funeral parlour staff prepare a grave for a victim of Covid-19 at Waterval Cemetery, Johannesburg.
Funeral parlour staff prepare a grave for a victim of Covid-19 at Waterval Cemetery, Johannesburg.
PHOTO: Felix Dlangamandla

Despite a strong correlation between the timing and location of roughly 42 200 excess natural deaths and surges of coronavirus cases and deaths, the health department said these deaths could not be definitively linked to Covid-19.

"The excess deaths [are] only an estimate of possible deaths related to Covid-19 that may not be captured in the death statistics - there is no confirmation that these deaths are actually linked to Covid-19," the former acting director general for health, Dr Anban Pillay, said on Friday.

The department was asked to clarify its official position following contradictory comments on excess deaths by President Cyril Ramaphosa on Wednesday, who at first admitted the official death toll could be under reporting deaths, adding he felt the official data was "spot on".

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