Projections during an extensive briefing with Health Minister Zweli Mkhize have been released. Modelling by a conglomerate of some of the country’s leading authorities, on Tuesday night, shows between 40 000 and 45 000 South Africans could die from Covid-19 by November.
The release of the projections follows strong criticism over the lack of transparency over the Covid-19 data. The projections, however, are subject to change as more data becomes available.
An estimated 500 deaths are expected by the end of May, with around 50 000 cases expected by that time. Projections for the total number of cases between June and November are between 1 and 1.2 million.
Between 20 000 and 35 000 ICU beds are expected to be needed between June and November, with general hospital beds required expected to be between 75 000 and 90 000.
While the National Ventilator Project managed by the Department of Trade and Industry decided on a design that could be locally manufactured, there was no indication whether production had yet begun.
Provinces are expected to peak at different times. Nevertheless, the national peak infection rate is expected around mid-July to mid-August.
The models are also being used to advise health interventions.
Dr Sheetal Silal, of the Modelling and Simulation Hub Africa (Masha), warned that the models, however, do not account for unexpected and major shifts in the behaviour of the population, which could act quickly to reduce transmissions as the realities of the virus become evident. Professor Juliet Pulliam of Sacema added that the projections were not a “crystal ball prediction of the future”.
Umm Muhammed Umar