By Spy Correspondent
Johannesburg: South Africa has re-enforced a ban on the sale and distribution of alcohol to reduce the volume of trauma patients so hospitals have more beds open to treat COVID-19 patients, President Cyril Ramaphosa has said.
Confronted by surging hospitalizations because of the coronavirus outbreak, South Africa also reinstated a nighttime curfew to reduce traffic accidents and made it mandatory for all residents to wear face masks when in public.
In a nationally televised address on Sunday, Ramaphosa said top health officials warned of impending shortages of hospital beds and oxygen as South Africa reaches a peak of COVID-19 cases. He said some hospitals have had to turn away patients because all their beds are full.
Ramaphosa said since the sale and distribution of alcohol was reintroduced in June, hospitals have experienced a spike in admissions in their trauma and emergency wards.
South Africa‘s rapid increase in reported cases has made it one of the world‘s centres for COVID-19, as it is ranked as the ninth country most affected by the disease, according to Johns Hopkins University. It has reported increases of more than 10,000 confirmed cases for several days and the latest daily jump was nearly 13,500.
South Africa accounts for 40 percent of all the confirmed cases in Africa with 276,242 – an increase of 12,058 in one day. It has recorded 4,079 deaths, 25 percent 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.“
The countrywide curfew mandates that people must not be on the roads between 9pm and 4am local time effective Monday.
Masks have also been declared mandatory with all transport operators, employers, and owners of businesses and buildings now legally obliged to ensure everyone entering their businesses or premises are wearing masks.
Download: President Ramaphosa Full Speech