Covid-19: why South Africa was right to ban alcohol

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Since Monday evening, the sale of alcohol has been banned again in South Africa. This restriction, set for now until January 15, aims to reduce admissions generated by excess consumption and relieve the country’s hospitals. Already out of breath, they have been overwhelmed for months by the influx of Covid patients. With a capacity of 3,200 beds, the Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital, a public establishment previously reserved for black patients during apartheid, is located in the Soweto district of Johannesburg, one of the most important sources of contamination in South Africa . It is one of the largest hospitals on the continent, but it has reached its limits.

Unprecedented relief for Soweto hospital

No doubt largely thanks to the alcohol ban, the huge Soweto hospital did not receive any trauma emergency patients during the transition to the new year, in a country struggling to fight the second wave of Covid -19. “For the first time in the history of the hospital, trauma emergencies did not receive any patient on the first day of the year”, welcomed Friday on its Facebook page the Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital, which accompanied his message of pictures of empty beds. Indeed, with road accidents and violence, emergency services generally experience a peak in attendance on New Year’s Eve, a peak linked in particular to heavy alcohol consumption. “This is proof that those who abuse alcohol weigh heavily on our health system”, reacted on Twitter an official of the province of Gauteng, Panyaza Lesufi.

The curfew established between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m., as well as the closure of bars and restaurants from 8 p.m. also undoubtedly played a role. A few hours earlier, the health authorities of the African country by far the most affected by the virus announced a new record with 18,000 cases recorded in 24 hours. The country has a total of 1,057,161 people infected and 28,469 deaths, 436 of which occurred in the last 24 hours.

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