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Big jump in recent Covid-19 deaths due to reconciling of data: Mkhize

The more robust processes make the figures more accurate, the health minister said

Matthew Savides Night news editor
Health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize. File picture.
Health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize. File picture.
Image: Photo by Gallo Images/Phill Magakoe

SA's recent spike in Covid-19 deaths was due to better verification processes, health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize said on Thursday night.

Mkhize announced that there were 160 Covid-19 related fatalities in the past 24 hours, taking the national death toll to 17,408.

Between Monday and Thursday, 432 deaths had been recorded.

“There has been a noticeable increase in the number of deaths recently,” said Mkhize. “This caused us concern as we have received reports from the Medical Research Council (MRC) that there have been no excess deaths for three weeks in a row.”

He said the ministry consulted with the provinces to find out why there was such a spike in fatalities.

“We have received reports that the provinces are implementing the recommendations of the MRC to reconcile the data with home affairs deaths data. In addition, provinces are auditing the deaths data either by mining data from the DATCOV [a sentinel hospital surveillance system] surveillance reports and identifying unreported deaths or auditing the facilities on the ground,” Mkhize said.

He said this “robust refinement of data collation” must be welcomed.

“It reassures us that, moving forward, we exercise precision in our epidemiological surveillance,” the minister said.

Of the new deaths recorded on Thursday, 18 were in the Eastern Cape, six in the Free State and Limpopo, 105 in KwaZulu-Natal, 13 in Gauteng, four in Mpumalanga and eight in the Western Cape.

Mkhize also announced that there were 1,736 new infections recorded in the past 24 hours, taking the national tally to 686,891. There had also been 618,771 recoveries.

The figures were based on 4,339,686 total tests, of which 21,172 were in the past 24-hour cycle.

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