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Covid-19: Excess deaths point to hidden toll in South Africa as cases surge

BMJ 2020; 370 doi: (Published 30 July 2020) Cite this as: BMJ 2020;370:m3038

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  1. Owen Dyer
  1. Montreal

South Africa seems close to the peak of its infection curve after an alarming month long surge in which the country of 59 million leapt from 18th to 5th in the world for total cases, which now stand at 459 761.

In a continent where 37 of 54 countries still have fewer than 5000 cases, South Africa’s modernity has worked against it. As a trade and travel hub, it saw more early cases than other African nation, and its strong transport network has helped the virus to penetrate the countryside. There are early signs that new cases might be levelling off, but overall mortality figures indicate that far more people have died in recent months than South Africa’s reported covid-19 deaths can account for.

The …

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