CAPE TOWN – South Africa has seen a rapid increase in its Covid-19 infection and death rate with over 48 000 infections and 998 deaths, but how accurate are those statistics?
In a recent interview aired on local television channel eNCA, the Wits University Director of Respiratory and Meningeal Pathogens Research Unit, professor Shabir Madhi explained that the presence of the virus does not mean the person died from it.
In a statement by Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize, a two-day-old newborn baby was recorded as the youngest Covid-19 victim due to ‘lung difficulties’. The baby had tested positive following tests of the mother being Covid-19 positive.
However, the baby was born prematurely with breathing problems due to an immature lung.
“There’s a very standardised manner in which you need to complete a cause of death form and there needs to be a biological association in the reason why the child died and what you’ve identified,” said Madhi.
“The mere presence of the virus doesn’t necessarily infer that the person died because of the virus.
“An absolute manner to confirm a Covid-19 death is to do a post-mortem biopsy, but unfortunately that is rarely done in South Africa. So often, we need to use our clinical judgment on whether there is a biological association between the illness and the presence of the virus,” he said.
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