Accurate reporting of Covid-19 infections and recoveries is essential to track the course of the pandemic, but the Gauteng Health Department’s official figures are not credible.
According to the Department, there are currently 7 675 active infections, which is lower than the 11 185 cases reported in the last 10 days. This is simply not possible as it takes at least 10 days to be cleared for even a mild Covid-19 case.
It is also highly unlikely that 64% of active cases are hospitalised as it is reported that there are 4 875 Covid-19 cases in Gauteng hospitals.
There was a similar misreporting problem in November last year when the Department claimed there were only 1384 active cases, but there were 1781 Covid-19 patients in Gauteng hospitals according to the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD).
Normally one would expect about 10-15% of Covid-19 cases to be in hospital, so the real figure of active infections in Gauteng is probably above 40 000 cases. This takes into account that many cases are asymptomatic or are not reported because they haven’t been tested.
Accurate figures are essential in tracking this epidemic and intervening speedily in emerging hotspots. They also assist the public in knowing in which areas they should take extra precautions.
The genuine decline in new infections in Gauteng is encouraging, but the severe under-reporting of active cases needs to be rectified.
We cannot afford to be complacent as there is a real risk of a resurgence of infections.