South Africa: Zweli Mkhize Plays Down Discrepancy in Reported Deaths

Following the announcement by President Cyril Ramaphosa regarding a break in the school calendar, this is a summary breakdown of the four-week break.

Health Minister Zweli Mkhize has downplayed the possible under-reporting of Covid-19 deaths after a study showed thousands of excess natural deaths.

Being a politically astute politician - this savviness goes back to his days as premier of a fractious KwaZulu-Natal - it was unlikely that Health Minister Zweli Mkhize would not respond to the South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC) reporting a 59% rise in excess natural deaths between May and July compared to historical data.

The possibility of Covid-19 deaths not being accurately recorded would raise yet another spectre in a flailing health system already dealing with crises over a lack of beds, oxygen supplies and personal protective equipment. In addition, there are questions over delays of up to nine days in coronavirus test results and the tracing of contacts of Covid-19 patients.

Thursday's Health Special Adjustment Budget vote debate in Parliament provided a platform to also announce just over 13,000 new infections.

In his opening speech, which Mkhize speed-read, came the response to the SAMRC's "Report on Weekly Deaths in South Africa". It was somewhat hidden after mention of the 10-year national health infrastructure plan, and National Health Insurance (NHI) information systems such as the patient register that...

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