South Africa will immediately re-enforce a ban on the sale and distribution of alcohol to reduce the volume of trauma patients so hospitals have more beds open to treat COVID-19 patients, President Cyril Ramaphosa has said.
Confronted by surging hospitalisations because of the coronavirus outbreak, South Africa also reinstated a nighttime curfew to reduce traffic accidents and made it mandatory for all residents to wear face masks when in public.
In a nationally televised address on Sunday, Ramaphosa said top health officials warned of impending shortages of hospital beds and oxygen as South Africa reaches a peak of COVID-19 cases. He said some hospitals have had to turn away patients because all their beds are full.
Ramaphosa said since the sale and distribution of alcohol was reintroduced in June, hospitals have experienced a spike in admissions in their trauma and emergency wards.
South Africa’s rapid increase in reported cases has made it one of the world’s centres for COVID-19, as it is ranked as the ninth country most affected by the disease, according to Johns Hopkins University. It has reported increases of more than 10,000 confirmed cases for several days and the latest daily jump was nearly 13,500.