‘Alcohol consumption has become the same problem everywhere in the country.’
With Gauteng faced with a sudden surge in coronavirus cases – increasing by thousands daily – Premier David Makhura has signalled a change of gear in dealing with Covid-19.
Makhura said there was a need to tighten measures, which could include a possible relook at regulations governing hours in the sale of alcohol, expected to be among issues up for discussion during a provincial executive council meeting tomorrow.
Concurring with Makhura’s view, medical expert Dr Giles van Cutsen of Doctors Without Borders, yesterday said a spike in alcohol consumption during alert Level 3, also had a negative impact in the Eastern Cape, Western Cape and in other provinces, leading to a strain in public hospital trauma units meant to serve Covid-19 patients.
“Alcohol consumption has become the same problem everywhere in the country,” said Cutsen.
“Obviously, measures to tighten control of the sale of alcohol will have an economic impact. But you have to balance the economic and health implications.
“The number of people dying in South Africa went down during the lockdown, though it has been during the Covid-19 crisis, because of the ban on the sale of alcohol and the subsequent reduction in the number of vehicle accidents, homicides and violent trauma.
“Trauma units now cannot cope with patient numbers because of alcohol-related injuries.”
Painting a gloomy picture of Gauteng faced with a rising tide of the coronavirus, Makhura made a call during a media briefing for citizens to act responsibly.
“Having seen an exponential increase in the coronavirus cases and significant fatalities, June has been a tough month.
“But July will even be more difficult, compared to June.
“The provincial executive council, joined by deployed ministers and deputies, are meeting tomorrow to discuss further measures for Gauteng.
“We need a risk-adjusted strategy to deal with hotspots and the introduction of a harsher localised lockdown.”
Makhura, who was joined by health MEC Bandile Masuku and members of the Gauteng Provincial Advisor Committee, said he was “worried about bringing back more pupils to school” because a total of 6 895 schools were affected by the spread of the virus.
Masuku said the provincial government signed an agreement with the private health sector for 8 330 beds to be made available during the crisis.
July will be more difficult compared to June
– The Citizen