At least 40,000 people could die from coronavirus in South Africa by the end of the year, according to projections made by a group of academics and health experts advising the government.
The scientists assume that tough lockdown restrictions will be eased from June as President Cyril Ramaphosa announced.
The lockdown was among other restrictions that were put in place in March which included a ban on tobacco and alcohol sales, and have been credited with slowing the spread of the virus.
However, projections by the South African COVID-19 Modelling Consortium, set up to assist the government in planning over the outbreak – says the nation could experience a peak in cases and deaths over the coming months.
Their projections are subject to change as more data becomes accessible and with the assumption that the current restrictions will be relaxed from June 1.
According to the report released during a meeting with Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize following criticism of the government’s perceived lack of transparency, it said that under an “optimistic scenario”, by late August the number of active cases could reach almost 100,000, before declining. The cumulative number of deaths by November would be 40,000.
Under a “pessimistic scenario” the number of active cases could peak around at 120,000 in August, and a total of 45,000 would die by November.
The report also stated there could be a total of 1.2 million COVID-19 cases and the intensive care units could be overwhelmed in weeks.
The country of 57 million people has recorded just 17,200 cases of COVID-19 and 312 deaths.