WATCH | Historic first: Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital trauma unit empty on New Year's Eve

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  • Not a single patient was admitted to the trauma unit of the Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital on New Year's Eve.
  • It's believed the empty trauma unit was a result of the stricter curfew and prohibition of alcohol implemented on Tuesday.
  • In an address on Monday evening, President Cyril Ramaphosa said that excessive alcohol consumption has been driving up the number of trauma cases in hospitals.


For the first time in its history, the Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital's trauma unit was empty on New Year's Eve.

According to a post on the Soweto-based hospital's Facebook page, not a single patient was admitted to the Soweto hospital's trauma unit as the new year dawned.

Professional nurse Busi Ramafoko, who has worked in the unit for the last nine years, welcomed the sight of an empty trauma unit, saying that New Year's Eve was very different to what she had experienced in the past.

Drop in trauma cases

Earlier in 2020, News24 reported that Chris Hani Baragwanath had seen a drop in trauma cases during the hard lockdown and noted the gradual increase as restrictions, including the ban on booze, was lifted.

It's believed the empty trauma unit was a result of the stricter curfew and prohibition of alcohol that was enforced by government days before the New Year celebrations would have gotten underway.

On Monday, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that the country would be moving back to Level 3 of the lockdown, with a set of adjusted regulations in a bid to curb the recent surge of Covid-19 infections around the country.

In his address, Ramaphosa said that excessive alcohol consumption has been driving up the number of trauma cases in hospitals.

"According to the data we have, with every relaxation of the restrictions on the sale of alcohol, the number of trauma cases reported at our hospitals has increased," the president said.

"These trauma cases are putting an unnecessary strain on our already stretched public health facilities.

"Our hospitals, both private and public, are already close to full capacity in a number of provinces, and ICU beds are either full already or rapidly filling up.

"In the Eastern Cape, for example, the number of hospitalisations and in-hospital deaths has now surpassed the numbers witnessed in the first surge earlier this year."

Justification for liquor ban

This appeared to be the justification for why the prohibition of liquor was introduced for a third time since the hard lockdown was originally enforced in March 2020.

Along with the ban on alcohol sales, night clubs, bars, shebeens and taverns were also shut down.

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