A new report by the South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC) released this week suggested that thousands of South Africans have died from ailments other than coronavirus in recent months because they went untreated due to pandemic constraints.
The study revealed a “huge discrepancy” in the number of coronavirus-related deaths and the number of “excess deaths” from natural causes reported during the coronavirus pandemic.
Released on Wednesday, the SAMRC report said that South Africa recorded “17,000 excess deaths from May 6 to July 14, while 6,000 coronavirus-related deaths were reported.”
“[T]he excess deaths could be due to other diseases such as tuberculosis or HIV going undertreated as resources were pooled together to fight the coronavirus,” SAMRC President Glenda Gray said.
“The numbers have shown a relentless increase — by the second week of July, there were 59 percent more deaths from natural causes than would have been expected [compared to data from the last two years],” the SAMRC report asserted.
On Friday, South Africa reported a total of 421,996 infections and 6,343 deaths from the Chinese coronavirus. The country now has the fifth-highest number of cases in the world. South Africa’s coronavirus cases account for more than half of the total reported cases for the African continent, currently estimated at 769,000.
Health experts believe the true number of coronavirus cases in South Africa and across the African continent remain much higher than officially reported due to insufficient testing and a lack of transparency by most African nations’ governments. So far, Africa has administered just 7.2 million coronavirus tests, a relatively low number for the continent’s total population of 1.3 billion people.