A new report from South Africa shows a “huge gap” in the number of reported coronavirus-related deaths and the number of “excess deaths” from natural causes as COVID-19 cases increase across the country.
The South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC) on Wednesday released a report of 17,000 additional deaths from May 6 to July 14, while 6,000 coronavirus-related deaths were reported.
SAMRC President Glenda Gray said the excessive deaths could be due to other illnesses such as TB or contracted HIV, with resources being pooled to fight the coronavirus.
“The numbers showed a relentless increase – as of the second week of July, there were 59 percent more deaths from natural causes than expected,” the SAMRC report said, comparing data from the past two years.
IN SOUTH AFRICA, CORONAVIRUS SURFACES AS OXYGEN SUPPLIES WEAKEN AT EPICENTER
And some health experts believe South Africans might avoid health facilities, amid fears surrounding the pandemic – which topped 400,000 cases in the country on Thursday.
South Africa accounts for more than half of the reported cases for the African continent and has become the fifth highest number of cases in the world, behind the United States which has reached more than 4 million cases, Brazil with nearly 2.3 million confirmed cases, with India exceeding 1.2 million cases and Russia with nearly 800,000 reported cases, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
“The coronavirus storm has indeed arrived,” South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said Thursday, adding that schools “would take a temporary break” for a month.
The World Health Organization (WHO) said on Thursday that more than 10,000 health workers have been infected with the disease across the continent and that adequate personal protective equipment (PPE) for health workers is needed. urgently.
CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC IN AFRICA ‘ACCELERATES’, WHO WARNS CASES REVERSE
“The growth we are seeing in COVID-19 cases in Africa is putting ever greater strain on health services across the continent,” Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa said Thursday. . “This has very real consequences for the people who work there, and there is no example more disappointing than the increasing number of infections of health workers.”
WHO has also reported that health workers make up 10 percent of the number of people infected worldwide.
Healthcare facilities across the continent were found to be sorely lacking the infrastructure to properly prevent the spread of infection, and less than eight percent of facilities had isolation capabilities.
WHO has trained more than 50,000 health workers across Africa in “infection prevention and control” and plans to train 200,000 more, she said.
Moeti said 41 million items of personal protective equipment (PPE) are being sent from China to help fill the protective equipment gap.
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Africa has reported nearly 769,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus, but health experts fear that figure is skewed due to the lack of transparent reporting and testing among the 54 African countries.
So far, 7.2 million tests have been carried out on a continent of over 1.3 billion people.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.