The gap is not unique to SA: around the world, official Covid-19 death reports generally underestimate the true extent of the disease as they only reflect deaths occurring in facilities where patients have been tested.
Western Cape recorded the most excess deaths (3,694), followed by Eastern Cape (3,299) and Gauteng (2,770). Among the metros, the greatest number of excess natural deaths was seen in Cape Town (2,923), followed by Johannesburg (1,120), Ekhurhuleni (780), Nelson Mandela Bay (773), Buffalo City (497) and Tshwane (326).
Many countries are tracking excess Covid-19 deaths by comparing the number of natural deaths in a given time period to a recent historical average. However, the MRC said it had used a lower baseline for comparison than the historical average to take account of the marked decline in deaths observed before Covid-19 fatalities were significant. Most other countries tracking excess deaths imposed lockdowns after their Covid-19 death rates had risen significantly, said UCT demographer and report co-author Rob Dorrington