The Limpopo provincial government continued their Covid-19 roll-out plan the past week with vaccinations for over-60-year-olds taking place at the Makhado Show Grounds in Louis Trichardt. Those who went for their Covid “shots” said they were impressed by the speed at which the vaccinations took place. Vaccinations will continue at the show grounds from 28 until 30 June next week. Pictured to get their vaccinations on Wednesday morning are Louis Trichardt residents John Kuhn and his wife Kato. Photo: Elardus van Zyl.
Date: 25 June 2021 By: Anton van Zyl
The third wave of Covid-19 infections has reached the Vhembe region, and even though official figures are still moderate, the real effects seem to be much more devastating than the previous waves. Several local schools and businesses closed the past week as more infections were reported.
The latest official figures made available by the Limpopo Department of Health indicate that on Wednesday, 23 June, there were 300 active Covid cases in Vhembe. Of these, Makhado reported most of the cases (162), with Thulamela (85) not too far behind. In Limpopo Province, the total number of active cases stood at 2 500, with 2 552 deaths. The official death toll in Vhembe stood at 497 on Wednesday. Compared to the cumulative total of Covid infections (12 263), this means that just more than 4% of the people contracting the disease in Vhembe died.
What is generally accepted, however, is that a lot of Covid cases “slip under the radar” and that the official figures are not a true reflection of the extent of the pandemic. The past week saw a flurry of infections being reported, and even the Makhado Municipality had to close on Monday. Schools such as Ridgeway rather opted to close until the situation has improved.
At the Zoutpansberg Private Hospital, the visiting hours were revoked to safeguard against the new wave of infections. The hospital also increased their disaster-surge-plan grading from yellow to orange, which means that more beds have been allocated to Covid patients.
Ms Anneke Stroebel, the manager at the hospital, said on Tuesday that they had seen a definite increase in the number of Covid patients at the hospital. The hospital has increased the number of isolation beds to 12, to make provision for the increase in patients. She said that, at this stage, no reason existed for panic, but they were preparing for a steep increase in the number of Covid patients.
The Louis Trichardt Memorial Hospital was also asked for an update on the situation there, but at the time of our going to press, nothing was forthcoming.
Statistics made available by the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) confirm that the local hospitals are following the national trend. Limpopo has 41 public and seven private facilities that report to the NICD. The figures for Tuesday (22nd) indicate that 211 patients had been admitted to hospitals in the province. Of these patients, 135 were in private hospitals and 76 in public hospitals. Twenty of the patients were in ICU.
Exactly a month earlier, on 22 May, only 48 patients were treated for Covid-related infections in Limpopo’s hospitals. Thirty-four of the patients were admitted to private hospitals, while 23 were in public hospitals. Only eight patients were treated in ICU, all of them at private hospitals.
Many believe that the death toll of the pandemic is vastly underreported. The SA Medical Research Council (SAMRC) collects data on reported deaths and uses this to predict how many people would die in a specific period. Such statistics are very necessary for government institutions and even big companies to do planning. The predictions are also based on data stretching back over many years and make provision for a variety of factors.
In the period between 3 May 2020 and 12 June 2021, some 170 091 “excess deaths” occurred in the country. This figure reflects the natural deaths (not because of factors such as accidents or shootings) above the expected figure for persons one year and older. Even if the official figure for Covid deaths (just over 59 000) is taken into account, it means that roughly 110 000 people more than expected had died.
In Limpopo, the number of excess deaths in the past year stood at 15 303 on 12 June. The province’s official tally of Covid deaths stood at 2 517 on 22 June.
Anton van Zyl has been with the Zoutpansberger and Limpopo Mirror since 1990. He graduated from the Rand Afrikaans University (now University of Johannesburg) and obtained a BA Communications degree. He is a founder member of the Association of Independent Publishers.