South Africa Says Virus Outbreak May Have Reached Its Peak

August 2020 Bloomberg ; South Africa’s coronavirus outbreak appears to be slowing, with the latest data showing fewer new infections and a drop in natural excess deaths.

Confirmed cases in all of the country’s nine provinces have fallen in recent days, most markedly in Gauteng, the most populous and economically important region. The Health Ministry recorded an additional 532 infections for the province on Tuesday, down from a peak of 6,531 cases on July 9.

“We are seeing an inflection in the curve and everything is coming down in most of the provinces,” Health Minister Zweli Mkhize told radio station 702 on Wednesday.

Natural excess deaths also fell in the last two weeks of July, according to the South African Medical Research Council. The number declined to 5,087 in the week ending July 29 from 5,848 the week earlier, indicating “hopeful signs of the epidemic reaching its peak in all the provinces by the end of July 2020,” the council said in a report Wednesday.

Tracking excess mortality is widely seen as a way to gauge the full scale of fatalities from Covid-19. It includes those suspected of having the coronavirus who died without having been tested, as well as people who died of other causes after being unable to seek treatment.

“It looks like the epidemic is slowing down,” Glenda Gray, the council’s chief executive officer, said by phone. “We hope we are over the peak.”

South Africa had 566,109 confirmed cases as of Tuesday, the most on the continent, and 10,751 deaths.

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