CNN explores why South Africa’s coronavirus death rate is lower than predicted!
Global (07 July 2020) – Coronavirus cases in South Africa are at a peak, with cases climbing in Cape Town and Johannesburg. But there is a silver lining in the surge as doctors have managed to keep mortality rates lower than predicted. David McKenzie from CNN reports from an emergency operations headquarters.
McKenzie reports from South Africa where, although coronavirus cases are rising, doctors have managed to keep mortality rates lower than predicted.
In Cape Town, Dr Lee Wallis, Western Cape Head of Emergency Medicine, speaks about these surprising figures, “Our death rate is slowing, that isn’t really what we’d modelled, it’s not what we predicted. We thought the deaths would continue and actually would be climbing quite dramatically.”
Dr Wallis explains that South Africa watched coronavirus outbreaks around the world and prepared accordingly, “We learned huge amounts from China, from Europe, from the US.”
One of the key things they learned, according to Dr Wallis, was to use ventilators only as a last resort, “You really need the body’s own system to fight [coronavirus] as much as possible.”
Instead, South Africa’s hospitals have been using high-flow nasal oxygen. Rather than being placed in a medically induced coma and breathing through a machine, many patients are taking in huge volumes of oxygen through masks or cannulas.
Dr Wallis details the results, “They looked at patients, said we would a week ago have intubated this patient, and they were having better outcomes. We’re now using nasal oxygen, and they’re walking out of the hospital.”
McKenzie also visits Johannesburg, where the epicentre of the county’s outbreak is moving. Here, Dr Claire Keene, a medical coordinator for the NGO Doctors Without Borders, says the city is well prepared, “I think we’ve used the time well. We were always going to question ourselves, did we do enough with the time that we were given during lockdown.”
She is also hopeful that people with learning from Cape Town’s example, “Every death is heavy on the healthcare workers, but when patients come here gasping for breath, and they walk out, it is a massive achievement for everyone.”
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