Coronavirus: Covid-19 deaths in South Africa will skyrocket in coming months

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Miners wearing face masks arrive at a mine in Carletonville, South Africa, 19 May 2020

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Reuters

Legend

Miners are among the main workers who have been allowed to continue


At least 40,000 people could die from coronavirus in South Africa by the end of the year, the scientists warned.

The screenings were made by a group of academics and health experts advising the government.

They assume that strict locking restrictions will be relaxed from June, as announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa.

The brakes – which were introduced in March and include a ban on the sale of tobacco and alcohol – have been known to have slowed the spread of the virus.

The country of 57 million people has so far registered only 17,200 cases of Covid-19 and 312 illness-related deaths. Spain, by comparison, has reported around 278,000 cases and nearly 28,000 deaths for a population of just 47 million.

But projections from the South African Covid-19 Modeling Consortium – set up to help the government plan the epidemic – indicate that the country could experience a sharp increase in cases and deaths in the coming months.

The report was released at a meeting with the Minister of Health, Dr. Zweli Mkhize, following criticism of the government’s perceived lack of transparency.

The forecast is subject to change as new data becomes available and assumes that the current restrictions will be relaxed from June 1.

In an “optimistic scenario”, at the end of August, the number of active cases could reach nearly 100,000, before decreasing. The cumulative number of deaths in November would be 40,000.

In a “pessimistic scenario”, the number of active cases could peak at around 120,000 in August and a total of 45,000 would die in November.

The report also suggests that there could be 1.2 million cases of Covid-19 in total, and that intensive care units could be submerged within a few weeks.

The balance of South Africa

By Namesa Maseko, BBC News, Johannesburg

Covid-19 politics and scientific rivalry have intensified in South Africa. The Democratic Alliance opposition is taking the government to court, arguing that strict lock-in regulations are not justified and that the ban on the sale of alcohol and tobacco should be lifted.

The government itself does not speak with one voice. President Cyril Ramaphosa said this month that the lockdown rules would be relaxed from “level 4” to “level 3” to allow schools to reopen and more people to return to work starting in early June.

But Health Minister Zweli Mkhize seems reluctant and said that, according to the World Health Organization, South Africa is not yet ready for level 3 as infections continue to increase every day .

It is a balance for the government, which must take into account issues of food security, job losses and the economy. Some scientists have called on the government to speed up the locking of restrictions at level 2, saying the current restrictions have little or no effect on the spread of the coronavirus.

In March, President Ramaphosa imposed some of the most stringent foreclosures of all countries.

Most workers have been ordered to stay at home. In addition to the bans on tobacco and alcohol, jogging, biking and walking dogs were also prohibited.

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Media captionThe Impact of South Africa’s Alcohol and Cigarette Ban on Lockout

On May 1, the borders were relaxed from “level 5” to “level 4”, allowing people to exercise between 6:00 am and 9:00 am

People are always invited to wear masks in public and to respect the rules of social distancing.

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