South Africa might witness around 50,000 deaths due to the coronavirus or COVID-19 and as many as three million infections by the end of this year as the southern hemisphere winter will lead to a bigger state off infection, scientific models explained on Thursday.

The nation already has registered the highest number of infections and deaths in the continent, with over 18,000 identified cases along with 339 fatalities, but the national lockdown due to the virus outbreak has slowed the infections.

South Africa can Register Around 50,000 Deaths due to Coronavirus

Coronavirus
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However scientists and statisticians hired by the health ministry to model the spread of the disease said the country could see between 35,000 and 50,000 coronavirus deaths by November. "We haven't really crushed the curve," said one of the experts, Harry Moultrie, in a presentation shown on television. "We also have some significant concerns that because of the focus on COVID-19, this may compromise other areas like HIV and TB."

The models, which consider best and worst scenarios, see as many 3 million possible coronavirus cases by November, while demand for hospital beds is seen peaking at 45,000, around ten times the current intensive care bed availability. One of models showed the lockdown had reduced the rate of infection by 60 percent, and that since the beginning of May, when lockdown restrictions were eased, that had fallen to 30 percent.

"With the lockdown we were creating a physical barrier that prevents the virus from moving," said Minister of Health Zweli Mkhize. "The lockdown had a particular value. Now we are trying to move to a slightly different strategy which is the risk-adjusted approach."

(With agency inputs)