South Africa has recorded no COVID-related deaths in 48 hours, a first since May 2020 for the continent’s officially most affected country, the country’s health authorities announced Tuesday, March 1.
The National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD) announced the news in its daily census of cases, which were reported from across the country, triggering cautious optimism.
The last time the country had no COVID-19 deaths was on May 12, 2020.
“We’re seeing that hospitals have almost no COVID cases anymore,” says Shabir Madhi, a vaccine specialist at the University of the Witwatersrand.
“We know that reported deaths are underestimated by a factor of three, but even then the rate is particularly low,” he adds, saying these results are related to vaccination and previous waves of the pandemic.
“The cost in human lives has been heavy, but it has allowed a large part of the population to develop protection against the severe forms of the disease,” he adds.
At least 80% of the densely populated Gauteng province, where Johannesburg is located, has already been infected with COVID, a proportion he says roughly mirrors that in the country.
Zimbabwe, Namibia, Angola, Mozambique and Eswatini have not reported any COVID-related deaths in the past 24 hours, although these neighbouring countries have less developed health monitoring.
South Africa has lost 100,000 people to COVID and has nearly 3.6 million people infected.