Eastern Cape Premier Oscar Mabuyane has warned that irresponsible consumption of alcohol during alert level 2 of the national lockdown will “end in tears”, as many people are behaving as if the virus is over.
Speaking during his weekly media briefing on government’s Covid-19 interventions, at the Madzikane KaZulu Hospital in KwaBhaca (formerly known as Mount Frere), the premier said the biggest worry for the provincial government was “alcohol users who go out of their homes to drink with friends whose infection status they do not know”.
“We plead with alcohol users to be vigilant, otherwise it will end in tears. You will go out as a young person and enjoy yourself with your friends, come back and infect your parents. And your parents would die. You won’t have parents and you will never enjoy life again, knowing that your parents are dead simply because you were reckless,” he said.
He said that, while people could consume alcohol, which had been prohibited since level 5 and partly during level 3, they should do so responsibly.
“We don’t encourage people to engage in binge drinking and parties. We said go out and buy and go back home because, even on site, consumption has its own restrictions.
“This issue of alcohol is a serious risk factor and it is creating problems in hospitals. It’s creating problems with car accidents. It’s creating problems with gender-based violence where we see the increase in cases because of people who abuse women after they have drunk alcohol,” he said.Editorial | It’s not only alcohol that kills road users
The premier pleaded with the people to understand that life under Covid-19 was unlike before, as now people were at a risk of contracting the virus and dying.
“Let’s behave in a manner that understands that the war is not yet over. The war is far from over. The enemy remains invisible. The enemy remains with us. We don’t want to even lose a single life. Those who drink irresponsibly put their lives and those of their families at risk,” said Mabuyane.
Meanwhile, the premier said they had seen a phenomenal reduction in the burden of the Covid-19 pandemic in the province. He said there had been a reduction in the infection rate, with only 11% reported in August. He said 58% of the Covid-19 cases had occurred in July and 27% in June.
Similarly, 51% of the deaths occurred in July, 28% occurred in June and only 11% occurred in August.
“This shows that, in the month of August, our people have resisted the virus in terms of both infections and fatalities, as 86% of all the reported cases and 78.6% of the deaths occurred during the June/July period. Our hearts and prayers are with the families of the 310 people whom we lost during Women’s Month [August],” he said.
The province was on a better footing than anticipated by their epidemiological data, which signalled that the fight against the virus was being won, rather than what had been projected by various experts.
“Various models that were presented by health experts predicted that Covid-19 cases would peak in July and early August, and that under almost all scenarios hospitals and ICU capacity would be exceeded. Both these projections have been proven wrong, however, we are glad that they were made because they pushed us to work with agility and respond to the virus in terms of encouraging our people to adhere to regulations and health protocols,” said Mabuyane.