Scientific models have shown that South Africa could see up to 50 000 COVID-19 deaths and as many as three million infections by the end of 2020 as the southern hemisphere winter leads to a higher rate of coronavirus infections.

The country already has one of the highest numbers of infections and deaths on the continent, with more than 18 000 identified cases and 339 deaths.

However, scientists and statisticians that the Health Department has hired say a national lockdown which is entering its sixth week has slowed infections. They say the country could see between 35 000 and 50 000 COVID-19 deaths by November.

Life Sciences and Healthcare leader at Deloitte Ashleigh Theophanides made a presentation during a Modelling Symposium that the department hosted in Johannesburg on Thursday.

Modelling presentation by Ashleigh Theophanides on #Coronavirus #COVID19SA. This slide shows year to date transition of Coronavirus severity assumption pic.twitter.com/AOVxTON9Zc

One of the models has shown the lockdown had reduced the rate of infection by 60% and that since the beginning of May, when lockdown restrictions were eased, that had fallen to 30%.

“We can see that, based on this, the expected number of COVID-19 cases are expected to peak around August/September. We can see that the results are approximately three million people. I think what is quite important to note is that the various interventions that get applied will of course influence these results and as people abide by various social distancing processes, we can keep the cases as low as possible,” says Theophanides.

In the video below, the Health Department hosts a symposium on the COVID-19 models in South Africa.

Health systems under pressure

The World Health Organisation African region said on Wednesday that African Public Health Systems in Africa are under extreme pressure as governments reconfigure their health systems in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

The organisation estimates that up to 190 000 people on the continent could die due to COVID-19 co-morbidities.

It has warned African countries not to neglect existing health programmes, as they respond to the new viral infection.

In the video below, WHO AFRO’s Deputy Incident Manager for COVID-19 Response in Africa, Dr. Richard Mihigo, discusses why African health systems are under pressure: