Alcohol sales ban back in the spotlight amid complaints to govt's coronavirus command council

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Minister of Health, Zweli Mkhize.
Minister of Health, Zweli Mkhize.
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  • The issue of alcohol-related  trauma cases has been tabled before the National Coronavirus Command Council.
  • Health Minister Zweli Mkhize says an increase in trauma cases that are alcohol related is putting a strain on the health system.
  • The ban on alcohol sales was lifted on 1 June when Level 3 lockdown regulations came into effect.

The increase in the number of alcohol-related trauma cases and its impact on the health system has been tabled before the National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC).

Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said this on Friday during a visit to Tshwane District Hospital as Gauteng's Covid-19 cases increased sharply.

Mkhize said the decision to table the issue before the NCCC followed a stark increase in alcohol-related trauma cases after the ban on the sale of alcohol was lifted on 1 June when Level 3 lockdown regulations came into effect.

"When there was a lockdown, it was quite clear that casualty departments did not have a lot of pressure," Mkhize said.  

As a result, there were more hospital beds and less pressure on the health system, including intensive care units, the minister added. 

"We have now been receiving in this hospital, and many other hospitals, lots of complaints about that fact that the alcohol-related trauma is causing a lot of pressure."

Mkhize said studies showed that since the easing of the lockdown to Level 3 and the lifting of the ban on the sale of alcohol, there was a 40 to 50% increase in trauma cases.

He added that the increase was observed in all hospitals and that in some instances, intensive care units also saw an increase in patients admitted for alcohol-related trauma. 

"It's quite debilitating when you have to deal with the numbers..."

"A number of people have come in with stab wounds, gunshots. And some of those involved in accidents, we found that a good percentage of them had a high level of alcohol in their systems."

We have tabled this issue so that the NCCC must consider because we think while we are going through this situation, it's a matter that we must look at." 

READ | Why the Eastern Cape's lobby to have alcohol ban reinstated is likely to fail

Mkhize added that once the matter was decided, he hoped that there would be some relief or support. 

News24 previously reported that Western Cape Premier Alan Winde spoke about the issue of alcohol and the strain it puts on the health system. 

Gauteng Premier David Makhura has, in recent weeks, spoken about considering limiting the sale of alcohol in the province.

Under Level 3, consumers can buy alcohol products from Monday to Thursday between 09:00 and 17:00

Eastern Cape Premier Oscar Mabuyane also lobbied the national government to reinstate the liquor ban in his province.

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