S Africa’s medical body calls for alcohol sales ban amid COVID-19

As COVID-19 cases keep climbing, the South African Medical Association (SAMA) called on the government to ban alcohol sales.

In an interview on Tuesday, SAMA Chairperson Angelique Coetzee told Xinhua that since alcohol sale ban was removed from June 1, the number of patients with alcohol-related injuries has been rising which put pressure on an already overstretched public health care system.

“People abuse alcohol and end up at the casualty and trauma units. We have a lack of resources for COVID-19 patients and now we have an additional burden of patients with alcohol-related injuries,” she said.

She said health care workers, especially in provinces such as the Western Cape, were already struggling with coronavirus patients.

“If people don’t drink responsibly, you get trauma stab wounds and motor car accidents type of patients. The doctors are overwhelmed with the number of COVID-19 patients and they need to focus on the pandemic,” she said.

One public hospital in the Eastern Cape said 66 patients with serious alcohol-related wound were admitted since the sale was permitted.

Coetzee said responsible drinking was lacking in the country.

“People don’t know how to drink responsibly, they abuse alcohol. We need to relook the sale of alcohol,”she said.

Some provincial leaders said they would be approaching the coronavirus national team which is led by President Cyril Ramaphosa to propose an alcohol ban.

Research conducted by the South African Medical Council showed that South Africa’s public hospitals’ trauma unit are often inundated with patients with serious injuries due to alcohol.