COVID slashes life expectancy in South Africa

The surge in COVID-19 infections has resulted in a one-third hike in the death rate, which rose from 8.7 fatalities per 1,000 in 2020 to 11.6 per thousand in 2021, according to Statistics South Africa.

Open graves at a cemetery in Hebron, north of Pretoria, South Africa, ahead of the funeral of a person who died from COVID-19 complications. Picture: Boikhutso Ntsoko/Eyewitness News

JOHANNESBURG - Life expectancy in South Africa has plunged by several years as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, the country's statistics agency said Monday.

South Africa has been the worst-hit country in Africa for COVID-19, recording nearly 2.3 million infections, of which 66,859 have been fatal.

The surge has resulted in a one-third hike in the death rate, which rose from 8.7 fatalities per 1,000 in 2020 to 11.6 per thousand in 2021, Statistics South Africa said in a report.

The steep jump has translated into a drop in life expectancy, a benchmark of how long a person can statistically expect to live if born today.

"Life expectancy at birth for males declined from 62.4 (years) in 2020 to 59.3 in 2021... and from 68.4 in 2020 to 64.6 for females," it said.

It cautioned that the statistic was not a projection of individual lifespan but a tool used in health policy, and in this case highlighted the burden of the pandemic.

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