South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Sunday that the country would reimpose an alcohol ban to reduce the number of trauma patients who have taken up space in hospitals, where beds are now desperately needed to accommodate a wave of coronavirus patients.
Faced with this outbreak, South Africa is also re-establishing a night curfew to reduce traffic accidents and requiring all residents to wear face masks in public.
In a national television address on Sunday evening, Ramaphosa said senior health officials warn of impending shortages of hospital beds and medical oxygen as South Africa reaches a peak in coronavirus cases, expected between the end of July and September. He said that some hospitals had to refuse patients because all the beds were full.
The rapid increase in the number of cases reported in South Africa has made it one of the global hot spots of COVID-19. Johns Hopkins University, which has global figures, ranks South Africa as the ninth most affected country.
The country has reported an increase of more than 10,000 confirmed cases over several days, and the last daily increase was nearly 13,500. South Africa accounts for 40% of all confirmed cases in Africa, with 276,242, or an increase of 12,058 in one day.
South Africa recorded 4,079 deaths, 25% of which occurred in the past week, said Ramaphosa.
“While the outbreak of the infections was expected, the strength and speed at which it progressed was understandably cause for great concern,” said Ramaphosa. “Many of us are afraid of the danger it poses for ourselves and our families. ”
5 DEAD IN SITUATION OF HOSTAGES IN SOUTH AFRICA; 40 ORDER
Ramaphosa said that since the sale of alcohol was reintroduced in June, hospitals have experienced an increase in admissions to their trauma and emergency departments.
Face masks have also been declared mandatory, with all transport operators, employers and owners of businesses and buildings now legally required to ensure that everyone entering their businesses or premises wears masks.
South Africa imposed one of the toughest closings in the world in April and May, including the closure of almost all mines, factories and businesses, and banned the sale of alcohol and cigarettes. The measures have slowed the spread of the coronavirus, but the South African economy has contracted considerably, increasing unemployment and hunger.
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The country began easing restrictions in June to allow millions of South Africans to return to work. The relaxation of the restrictions allowed the sale of alcohol four days a week. But within a few weeks, the number of confirmed cases and hospitalizations increased dramatically, prompting Ramaphosa to reimpose the ban on the sale of alcohol, among other restrictions.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.