Covid-19: There are hopeful signs the virus has peaked, says SAMRC

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A medical staffer at the Nasrec field hospital in Johannesburg.
A medical staffer at the Nasrec field hospital in Johannesburg.
Photo by Gallo Images/Sharon Seretlo
  • There are hopeful signs Covid-19 reached its peak at the end of July, says the South African Medical Research Council. 
  • Professor Debbie Bradshaw says the Western Cape stands out as having a much slower epidemic. 
  • Council president and CEO Glenda Grey says the downward turn of deaths is a positive sign the virus may have peaked in some parts of the country. 

The South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC) says there are hopeful signs the Covid-19 pandemic reached its peak in all the provinces at the end of July. 

This is based on data from the Department of Home Affairs of the deaths registered on the national population register. 

The SAMRC's Burden of Disease Research Unit publishes reports on weekly deaths in the country. 

In a statement released on Wednesday, the SAMRC said: "To calculate 'excess mortality' in a given period, the research team looks at the number of people who had died over this period compared to the number we would have expected to have died. The geographic pattern as well as the age pattern indicate that the excess deaths are related to Covid-19."

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It added the pandemic had different trajectories in the provinces.

The SAMRC's chief specialist scientist, Professor Debbie Bradshaw, said the Western Cape, which was the first province to experience community spread, stood out as having a much slower epidemic.

"It took several weeks to set in and is now taking time to recede. In contrast, the epidemics in the Eastern Cape, Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal had much quicker increases," Bradshaw added.

Safety

"We still urge South Africans to continue to wear masks, practice physical distancing, hand-hygiene and avoid crowds and congestion."

Meanwhile, the SAMRC's president and CEO, Glenda Gray, said they had urged doctors to ensure the accurate completion of death certificates especially if it was Covid-19 related.

She added this would be important in understanding the true impact of the pandemic. 

"The downward turn of deaths is a positive sign that the virus may have peaked in some parts of the country and is in keeping with the epidemiological models of the pandemic," Gray said. 

The report on weekly deaths shows the "number of estimated excess deaths has begun to decrease, consistent with the trend in the number of confirmed Covid-19 deaths. Both are turning down".

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