50 Covid-19 related deaths in SA: From age, province & underlying causes, here's what we know

17 April 2020 - 20:56 By Cebelihle Bhengu
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SA has 50 confirmed deaths related to Covid-19.
SA has 50 confirmed deaths related to Covid-19.

Fifty people have died in SA after testing positive for Covid-19, the respiratory illness caused by the coronavirus.

Over 100,000 coronavirus tests have been conducted with 2,783 confirmed positive cases in the country, health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize announced on Friday evening.

The identities of most Covid-19 patients have been withheld to protect them from the stigma attached to the coronavirus. Gauteng health MEC Bandile Masuku said patients are stigmatised, even after they test positive.

Some people have been named, with the consent of the their families. They include 79-year-old Krugersdorp writer and artist Louis Wilsenach, who was Gauteng's first confirmed death. There was also 81-year old Drienie Dorrington from Durban, KwaZulu-Natal, and 56-year-old Somi Vilakazi from Soweto, Gauteng.

With the SA death toll now at 50, this is what we know so far:

First death

The health ministry announced the first Covid-19 fatality on March 27, three weeks after the country's first positive case was registered in KwaZulu-Natal.

Madeleine van Wyk, 48, from the Western Cape tested positive for Covid-19 on March 23, and had a pulmonary embolism, meaning she had an underlying disease.

Underlying diseases

The health ministry has not always provided details but, overwhelmingly, those who have died from the illness have suffered with underlying conditions, including hypertension, chronic asthma and diabetes. However, this is not always the case.

Mkhize on Monday announced that a 57-year-old man from Gauteng died and, worryingly, said the minister, he did not have any signs of underlying conditions.

The department of health on Wednesday said it had not yet been established whether a man and woman from KZN, both aged 79, had any underlying conditions.

Ages of the deceased

The available data indicates that the majority of Covid-19-related deaths are in the 80s age group. The youngest person to have died was 46, and the oldest was 91.

Age group Deaths 


Details around the two deaths announced on Friday were not provided at the time of publishing.

Provincial breakdown:

KZN has the highest number of deaths while Gauteng, the hardest hit province with more than 1,000 positive cases, has six deaths.

Province Deaths Recoveries*
Gauteng 6479
Western Cape 15205
KwaZulu-Natal 2096
Eastern Cape 49
Free State 471
North West 010
Mpumalanga 09
Northern Cape 06

*The figure for recoveries was last provided on Thursday, April 16.

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