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Discovery backs alcohol ban, but warns it's not long-term solution for abuse

Discovery Health chief executive officer, Dr Ryan Noach, said that a more targeted plan was needed to eradicate the abuse of liquor.

Customers queue outside the Ultra Liquors in Wynberg, Cape Town following the relaxation of alcohol sale restrictions on 1 June 2020. Picture: Kaylynn Palm/EWN

CAPE TOWN – Discovery Health has given the thumbs up for government's move to reintroduce a ban on the sale of alcohol.

The medical scheme administrator said that it was important to ensure that COVID-19 patients requiring hospitalisation had access to a bed and in-hospital care.

When relaxed alcohol use restrictions were introduced under level 3 of the lockdown last month, medical personnel complained about the surge in alcohol-related trauma cases, adding extra pressure on the healthcare system in the country.

Discovery Health chief executive officer, Dr Ryan Noach: “In the short term, we can understand why the government has chosen to do this. It is critical for us as a country that every single patient in need of a hospital bed or an ICU bed has access to one and this, based on the data that is available, does seem to free up hospital beds.”

Noach said that a more targeted plan was needed to eradicate the abuse of liquor.

“In the medium and longer-term, I am of the view that prohibition is not a solution to the alcohol-related issues. We need much broader and better education campaigns. We need societal understanding and ownership of the consequences of alcohol abuse.”

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