The South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC) said in a weekly report that there are hopeful signs that all the provinces have reached the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The estimated number of deaths due to the virus has begun to decrease as expected.
This is based on data provided by the Department of Home Affairs of the deaths registered on the National Population Register.
The council says that in order to accurately calculate ‘excess mortality’ over a certain time period, the research team looked at the number of people who had died during this time and compared it to the number of anticipated fatalities.
“The geographic pattern, as well as the age pattern, indicate that the excess deaths are related to COVID-19,” said SAMRC’s chief specialist scientist, Professor Debbie Bradshaw, on Wednesday.
The council said the pandemic has a different route in each province.
“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 added.
Meanwhile, the pandemics in the Eastern Cape, Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal had much quicker increases, Bradshaw said.
She added that South Africans are urged to continue wearing masks, practice physical distancing, hand hygiene and 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,” the Professor added.
The research shows that between 6 May and 4 August this year there were 33 478 excess deaths.
According to SAMRC, 9 469 were reported in Gauteng, 8 591 in the Eastern Cape, 5 137 in KwaZulu-Natal, 1 856 in 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, is calling on doctors to ensure the accurate completion of death certificates - especially if the case is COVID-19 related.
“It will be important in understanding the true impact of the pandemic,” Gray stressed and ended by saying “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.”