Deaths from natural causes increased in all provinces in the first week of the year, but the MRC said particularly sharp rises were recorded in KwaZulu-Natal, the Western Cape and Gauteng.
In KwaZulu-Natal, excess natural deaths “reached a record high of 3,389, more than double the peak of the first wave of 1,306 deaths”, said the researchers. This is 220% higher than normal.
The Western Cape had an excess of 1,432 natural deaths, 193% higher than normal. “There are indications of a slowdown in the increase, but the number of deaths has not yet turned and is more than double than the peak of the first wave (601)," said the MRC.
A three-week spike in excess deaths in Gauteng culminated in a total of 1,712 in the week under review.
In the Eastern Cape, the rate of increase was lower and the MRC said deaths from natural causes in the province “may be showing the early signs of turning”.
It added: “The number of deaths in the second wave is considerably higher than the number of excess natural deaths that occurred in the peak of the first wave in the province (1,597).
“Natural deaths in Nelson Mandela Bay have continued to decrease and the second wave in Buffalo City has turned.”