1,000 deaths: SA hits grim Covid-19 milestone

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South Africa on Monday night reached a grim milestone as the country battles to contain the coronavirus: more than 1,000 people have now died from the illness the virus causes.

The milestone was reached 73 days after the first Covid-19 related death – that of 48-year-old Madeleine van Wyk from the Western Cape – was recorded on March 27.

In figures released on Monday, health minister Zweli Mkhize said 82 additional deaths had been recorded since the statistics were released on Sunday night. This means that there are now 1,080 confirmed deaths from the illness in SA.

Of the 82 newly recorded deaths, 55 were in the Western Cape, 26 in the Eastern Cape and one in KZN.

Mkhize also revealed that the number of confirmed cases in SA had climbed from 48,285 on Sunday to 50,879 on Monday – an increase of 2,594 cases.

Within a few days of the first death on March 27, fatalities were confirmed across the country. By March 31, five deaths had been recorded across SA, including in KZN, Gauteng and the Free State.

The Free State’s cases had largely stemmed from from a church conference in Bloemfontein, which was also attended by international visitors who later tested positive for Covid-19.

Fatalities were then confirmed in the Eastern Cape and Limpopo on April 16.

On May 11, the North West reported its first fatality and, a week later, on May 19, after a relatively low infection rate, the Northern Cape reported its first death.

Mpumalanga only reported its first coronavirus death on Sunday, meaning that every single province had at least one death.

According to statistics provided by the health department, the youngest person to have died from the virus was a two-day-old infant, who was born to a Covid-19 positive mother in May. The infant was born prematurely and also had trouble with its lungs.

While the 1,000-death mark is jarring, figures posted on international reference website Worldometer show that SA has recorded fewer fatalities than 30 other countries.

Of 407,437 deaths globally (as recorded at 8pm on Monday), 112,645 have been in the USA, 40,597 in the UK and 37,312 in Brazil.

In Africa, the most deaths – 1,237 – have been recorded in Egypt, followed by SA. In Egypt’s case, the fatalities were from just over 34,000 cases.