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Race, gender and age: what the early Covid-19 stats in SA show

08 June 2020 - 15:14 By Unathi Nkanjeni
The National Institute of Communicable Diseases has released Covid-19 data based on findings from March 5 to May 31.
The National Institute of Communicable Diseases has released Covid-19 data based on findings from March 5 to May 31.
Image: REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

Data released by the National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD) has provided more insight into the race, gender, sex and underlying health issues of those infected by the coronavirus in SA.

The statistics are based on 4,718 Covid-19 admissions made in private and public hospitals in all nine provinces from March 5 to May 31.


Here are five revelations from the stats.


According to the NCID, of the 2,288 (48.5%) patients out of the 4,718 Covid-19 admissions, whose race was known, 1,458 (63.7%) were black Africans, 436 (19.1%) were coloured, 266 (11.6%) were white and 128 (5.6%) were Indian.

These admissions were reported at 218 facilities (57 public sector and 161 private sector).


The average age of  patients admitted with Covid-19 was 49,  said the NCID.

There were 194 (4.1%) admissions of patients younger than 20 and 704 (14.9%) patients older than 70.

The average age of patients who died from Covid-19 implications was 61,  and for those who tested positive and were still alive the average age was 47 years.


Among admitted individuals with Covid-19, 2,563 (54.3%) were female.

The NCID said the sex ratio varied by age group, with females more common than males in all age groups, except in patients younger than 10 years.

Among the 2,563 female admissions, there were 210 (8.2%) females admitted who were pregnant or within six weeks postpartum.

Underlying health issues

The NCID reported that of the 3,737 (79.2%) patients whose comorbid diseases were known, about 1,315 (35.2%) had no comorbid disease reported, 1,127 (30.2%) had one comorbid disease reported and 1,295 (34.7%) had two or more comorbid diseases reported.

Among the 2,422 patients who had reported a comorbid condition, the most commonly reported comorbid conditions were hypertension at 1,353 (55.9%) and diabetes at 1,167 (48.2%). There were 467 (19.3%) patients who were HIV-infected, 97 (4.0%) patients with active tuberculosis and 276 (11.4%) patients with a previous history of TB.

Obesity, while not consistently recorded for all reported Covid-19 admissions, was recorded as a risk factor in 87 patients.

Private vs public hospitals

In the first few weeks of the outbreaks, most deaths were reported in the private sector, but in recent weeks an increasing proportion of reported deaths was in the public sector.

Of the 4,718 admitted individuals, there were 2,267 (48%) and 2,451 (52%) admissions reported in the private and public sector, respectively.

The NCID said as of May 31, the Western Cape reported 38 Covid-19 admissions in the public sector and KwaZulu-Natal reported 32 admissions in the private sector.