Dr Juliet Pulliam, Director of the South African Centre for Epidemiological Modelling and Analysis (SACEMA) says that South Africa can “pessimistically” expect a peak in COVID-19 cases in the country in early July.
Speaking at Modelling Symposium information sharing session along with Health Minister Zweli Mkhize, she said that optimistically speaking, we could see the peak in August.
The peak in cases was previously said to be expected in September.
‘Between 35 and 40 thousand may die’
A grim projection made by Pulliam, who is also a professor of applied mathematics at Stellenbosch University (SU), was that their model projects that 35 000 to 50 000 South Africans could lose their lives due to COVID-19.
This is according to a set of data models her team, who are leading experts guiding the South African government’s response to the pandemic, have compiled and continue to update as new information comes to light.
She wanted to make it clear that models change as new data becomes available, and insisted that these were simply the latest projections.
“Models are adaptable… [they] have a set of assumptions about the world, and we update those assumptions as new information becomes available,” she said.
“Models are really tools that can help you think about the future,” she said. “But they don’t tell you the future in the sense that someone with a crystal ball might tell you the future.
She said that social distancing and lockdown measures have worked as so far, as the epidemic curve has flattened and the peak been delayed from the initial projections in March.
PPE needed for June
She also spoke about the need for more personal protective equipment (PPE) to be procured, with nearly 21 million N95 masks needed in July.
The following PPE will be needed in June 2020:
- N-95 Masks: 20 945 172
- Surgical masks: 100 536 823
- Eye/face shields: 29 323 240
- Gowns: 46 079 377
- Gloves: 8 378 069
- Testing swaps: 1 675 614