South African President Cyril Ramaphosa says the country will immediately return to a ban on the sale of alcohol to reduce the volume of trauma patients so that hospitals have more beds open to treat COVID-19 patients.
Confronted by surging hospitalizations due to the coronavirus, South Africa is also reinstating a night curfew to reduce traffic accidents and made it mandatory for all residents to wear face masks when in public.
Ramaphosa said, in a nationally televised address Sunday night, that top health officials warn of impending shortages of hospital beds and medical oxygen as South Africa reaches a peak of COVID-19 cases, expected between the end of July and September. He said some hospitals have had to turn away patients because all their beds are full.
In the midst of our national effort to fight against this virus there are a number of people who have taken to organizing parties, who have drinking sprees, and some who walk around in crowded spaces without masks
South Africa’s rapid increase in reported cases has made it one of the world’s centers for COVID-19, as it is ranked as the 9th country most affected by the disease, according to Johns Hopkins University.
The country has reported increases of more than 10,000 confirmed cases for several days and the latest daily increase was nearly 13,500. South Africa accounts for 40% of all the confirmed cases in Africa, with 276,242, an increase of 12,058 in one day.
South Africa has recorded 4,079 deaths, 25% of which have been in the past week, said Ramaphosa.
“While the surge of infections has been expected, the force and the speed with which it has progressed has, quite understandably, caused great concern,” said Ramaphosa. “Many of us are fearful of the danger this presents for ourselves, and for our families.”
Ramaphosa said that since the sale of alcohol was re-introduced on in June, hospitals have experienced a spike in admissions in their trauma and emergency wards.
The countrywide curfew mandates that people must not be on the roads between 9 p.m. and 4 a.m. effective Monday.