South Africa: Eastern Cape Trauma Cases Down As Alcohol Ban Kicks in - but the Drinking Continues


The suspension of alcohol sales during the national lockdown, aimed at curbing the spread of Coronavirus infections, has seen an almost immediate and significant drop in trauma cases for the province's ambulance services. However, community leaders say that while pubs and shebeens might be closed, the market for illegal alcohol is thriving.

Emergency calls to state ambulances in the Eastern Cape have dropped by 40% since the lockdown started on 27 March, but community leaders insist the ban on the sale of alcohol has not stopped people from buying or drinking.

President Cyril Ramaphosa declared the coronavirus pandemic a national disaster earlier in March and ordered the country into lockdown. As part of the disaster regulations, the government banned all alcohol sales.

Eastern Cape Health Department spokesman, Sizwe Kupelo, said since lockdown started, calls to emergency medical services across the province had dropped by 40%.

According to 2019 statistics from Nelson Mandela Bay's metro, ambulances attended to 24 motor vehicle accidents and 42 shootings over last year's Easter weekend.

"The positive thing about the current lockdown is that there has been a reduction in trauma cases and deaths," Kupelo said. "The emergency medical services, hospital casualty departments and forensic facilities...

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