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WC hospitals see spike in trauma cases after alcohol sales resume

After being prohibited for more than two months, the sale of alcohol resumed on Monday morning and trauma doctor Savannah Smith reported that on Tuesday night, she saw more alcohol-related trauma than she had in the entire month of May.

Picture: Pixabay.com

CAPE TOWN - It's been less than a week since the sale of alcohol resumed across the country and the Western Cape Health Department on Thursday said that it was already experiencing the effects of the decision in trauma wards.

After being prohibited for more than two months, the sale of alcohol resumed on Monday morning and trauma doctor Savannah Smith reported that on Tuesday night, she saw more alcohol-related trauma than she had in the entire month of May.

"People were coming in intoxicated, having stabbed each other and then I need to emphasise the gender-based violence. Many women came in needing to be consoled because their partners were drunk and inflicted violence on them.

"The 80-year-old grandmother who fell and broke her hip and ended up waiting up to eight hours to be seen by me, because I was too busy seeing all the alcohol-related trauma. So I've heard similar stories from many of my colleagues over the past few days and I speak on their behalf, saying that the lifting of the alcohol ban may have been somewhat premature."

GALLERY: Happy hour: Queues at bottle stores as alcohol sale ban lifted

During the first few weeks of level five lockdown, Groote Schuur Hospital reported a massive drop in trauma admissions, with the numbers dropping by almost two thirds.

But with alcohol once again available, the figures are rising.

The Western Cape's head of health, Dr Keith Cloete, said that alcohol-related traumas included contact crimes and car crashes and more often than not, they required serious interventions.

"Because there are some severe injuries which requires the person to have emergency surgency, we therefore need to have access to ICU and that’s where the big challenge comes."

With the province trying to reserve as much intensive care unit space as possible to deal with the peak in COVID-19 cases, this extra burden is of particular concern for health authorities.

Cloete has again appealed to drinkers to indulge responsibly and think about the effects their choices had on others, especially as the province faces a second crisis in the form of COVID-19.

WATCH: Liquor stores reopen