The M&G’s projection on Covid-19 infections on Monday 16 March

Click here to read the M&G’s latest projections on the spread of coronavirus in South Africa

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.

READ MORE: 665 to 12-million infected: The possible SA coronavirus numbers

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.  

Our live blog has the latest on the Covid-19 outbreak.

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These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

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M&G Data Desk
The Data Desk is the centre for data journalism at Mail & Guardian
Athandiwe Saba
Athandiwe Saba

Athandiwe Saba is a multi award-winning journalist who is passionate about data, human interest issues, governance and everything that isn’t on social media. She is an author, an avid reader and trying to find the answer to the perfect balance between investigative journalism, online audiences and the decline in newspaper sales. It’s a rough world and a rewarding profession.

Sipho Kings
Sipho Kings is the acting editor-in-chief of the Mail & Guardian

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