Alcohol sales ban will bring us relief – Gauteng health MEC

Gauteng MEC for Health, Bandile Masuku at the Nasrec quarantine / isolation site in Nasrec, 3 July 2020. Picture: Neil McCartney

Soon after alcohol sales resumed, hospitals and healthcare workers saw a sharp spike in patients admitted to emergency wards for trauma injuries.

Gauteng Health MEC Dr Bandile Masuku says the provincial government welcomes the decision of the National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC) to immediately suspend the sale of alcohol.

“It is going to give us great relief on our trauma cases and it will play a role in reducing the numbers, as well as relieving the stress and the pressure at our facilities,” Masuku said.

This came after President Cyril Ramaphosa announced on Sunday night that the sale of alcohol was suspended with immediate effect.

The decision was taken to avoid burdening clinics and hospitals with alcohol-related trauma cases that could have been avoided.

“This is a fight to save every life, and we need to save every bed [to do that]. There is now clear evidence that the resumption of alcohol sales has resulted in substantial pressure being put on hospitals, including trauma and ICU units, due to motor vehicle accidents, violence and other related trauma,” Ramaphosa said.

The sale of alcohol was initially permitted under alert Level 3 of the risk-adjusted lockdown strategy, which commenced on 1 June.

Soon after alcohol sales resumed, hospitals and healthcare workers saw a sharp spike in patients admitted to emergency wards for trauma injuries. Many of the incidents involved the consumption of alcohol, doctors and nurses reported.

Eastern Cape Premier Oscar Mabuyane was one of the first leaders to announce that he would lobby national government to reinstate a liquor sales ban under lockdown level 3 for his province, due to fears that alcohol-related trauma would severely burden the battle against Covid-19 infections.

Mabuyane’s call was followed by Gauteng Premier David Makhura stating in a provincial update briefing earlier this month that his government would recommend “harsher restrictions” to the NCCC following a provincial executive committee meeting.

On Monday, it was reported that Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital in Soweto, one of Gauteng’s largest health facilities, saw more trauma cases as lockdown restrictions were eased and the sale of alcohol resumed.

In June, the facility saw close to 3 000 trauma cases, an increase of more than 1 000 cases compared to May.

As of Tuesday morning, Gauteng has recorded a total of 103 713 coronavirus cases, with 33 514 recoveries and 644 deaths.

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