Home News NC has recorded 386 “excess deaths”

NC has recorded 386 “excess deaths”


While the death figure from Covid-19 for the Northern Cape is currently at 68, the SAMRC has indicated that the number of excess deaths in the Province is 386.

File image. Carolyna Booth Pixabay

WHILE the South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC) believes there are hopeful signs that the coronavirus pandemic may have reached its peak in all the provinces by the end of July 2020, it has emerged that the Northern Cape has recorded 386 excess deaths.

While the death figure from Covid-19 for the Northern Cape is currently at 68, the SAMRC has indicated that the number of excess deaths in the Province is 386.

This is according to information based on data from the Department of Home Affairs of the deaths registered on the National Population Register.

Excess deaths are typically defined as the difference between the observed numbers of deaths in specific time periods and expected numbers of deaths in the same time periods.

Estimates of excess deaths can provide information about the burden of mortality potentially related to the Covid-19 pandemic, including deaths that are directly or indirectly attributed to Covid-19.

SAMRC’s chief specialist scientist, Professor Debbie Bradshaw, pointed out that according to this week’s report, the number of estimated excess deaths in the country has begun to decrease, consistent with the trend in the number of confirmed Covid-19 deaths.

“To calculate ‘excess mortality’ in a given period, the research team looks at the number of people who 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,” Bradshaw explained.

The council said the pandemic had different trajectories in the various provinces.

“The Western Cape, the first province to experience community spread, stands out as having a much slower pandemic. It took several weeks to set in and is now taking time to recede,” she said.

Meanwhile, the pandemics in the Eastern Cape, Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal had much quicker increases, Bradshaw said.

She said they were still urging South Africans to continue to wear masks, practise physical distancing and hand hygiene and to avoid crowds and congestion.

“Although these data do not have information about the medical cause of death apart from whether the cause was natural or unnatural, the data are invaluable as they provide a near real-time count of the total numbers of deaths from natural and unnatural causes,” she added.

The research shows that between May 6 and August 4 this year there were 33 478 excess deaths in the country.

According to the SAMRC, 9 469 excess deaths were reported in Gauteng, 8 591 in the Eastern Cape, 5 137 in KwaZulu-Natal, 1 856 in the Free State, 1 522 in Mpumalanga, 1 122 in the North West, 982 in Limpopo and 386 in the Northern Cape.

SAMRC president and CEO, Professor Glenda Gray, has meanwhile called on doctors to ensure accurate completion of death certificates – especially if the deaths are Covid-19 related.

“It will be important in understanding the true impact of the pandemic,” Gray stressed.

“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 added.