When the Mail & Guardian print edition hit the streets this past Friday, the number of Covid-19 infections had jumped to 24 cases. By the time the next edition comes out this Friday, our projections suggest we could have 400 cases.
With the disease currently growing at a rate of 61% a day in South Africa, by the end of this month we could run out of ICU beds. The best-case global growth-rate average is 13% a day.
The M&G Data Desk crunched the numbers on the 61% growth rate and by the end of the month, 70 328 people could be infected. By April 1, this could jump to 112 525 and by April 2 it could be 180 000.
Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said that, globally, about 15% of people who contract Covid-19 are hospitalised. That means that more than 10 500 people could need hospitalisation by the end of this month on the current trajectory.
The minister also said that there are just over 87 000 hospital beds in the country.
Mkhize added that 5% of people who get Covid-19 could end up in intensive-care units (ICU). With 70 328 people infected this would mean that, by March 31, more than 3 500 people could need ICU. This is if you ignore any other people who need intensive care, as well as people already in the hospital system, and in an ideal scenario where ICU beds work as intended.
The minister said there are 813 and 161 ICU beds in the state and private health systems, respectively.
The 87 309 hospital bed number that Mkhize used in the public sector is a much smaller one than was previously stated from the annual research conducted by the Health Systems Trust.
The current growth rate, and its attendant scenarios, will continue if nothing changes. The announcement of a national disaster by President Cyril Ramaphosa, cutting down on travel, and trying to slow and then turn around the infection rate, is aimed at changing the 61% infection rate.
The outbreak of coronavirus is like nothing this country or the world has dealt with before, with the situation constantly changing. At times like this, reliable information is the most precious commodity: reliable information to make informed decisions. As always, the M&G will continue to ensure that you stay on top of things by bringing you only the critical news and most informed opinions to help inform yours.
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