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SA lockdown may have averted 20,000 deaths, says bio-information expert

As the nation debates about whether lockdown restrictions must be eased, Professor Tulio de Oliveira argues that its value cannot be underestimated.

Gauteng provincial commissioner and Gauteng MEC for community safety Faith Mazibuko together with SAPS Provincial Commissioner, Elias Mawela lead operation  “Okae molao” to ensure that the public is complying to the COVID-19 lockdown regulations in Orange Farm and Everton, South of Johannesburg on 30 April 2020. During the operation expired goods and some items are and resold to the public. Pictures Sethembiso Zulu/EWN.

CAPE TOWN - South Africa's COVID-19 lockdown may have averted about 20,000 deaths.

That's the view of a bio-information specialist with the KwaZulu-Natal Research and Innovation Sequencing Platform.

South Africa currently has 12,000 infections, but it could've been 160,000 at this stage had the lockdown not been implemented early and effectively.

As the nation debates about whether lockdown restrictions must be eased, Professor Tulio de Oliveira argues that its value cannot be underestimated.

"We would expect that by today if nothing had been done, the country would have close to 160,000 infections."

The bio-information expert said that a late or ineffective lockdown would also have led to much more than the current 219 fatalities across the country.

"You can also calculate that this rate from the different countries at the same stage of the epidemic, that we have averted approximately 20,000 deaths."

De Oliveira said that the lockdown had worked because of its implementation and compliance.

"What really decreed the effectiveness of the lockdown is when you do it. So if you do it late, as happened in Italy or the in the UK, you still have a long lockdown but you can't avert that many infections because the virus is still widespread, so that's one of the big differences when you compare the countries."

WATCH: COVID-19 Situation Desk - 14 May 2020 AM

For official information about COVID-19 from the Department of Health, please click here.