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WC hospitals backed to handle trauma & COVID-19 cases if booze sales ban lifted

Since the alcohol ban was reinstated three weeks ago, trauma units at Western Cape hospitals have been under less pressure.

FILE: A doctor sutures a man's nose and face after he was admitted to the Khayelitsha District Hospital's trauma unit. Picture: EWN

CAPE TOWN - Since the alcohol ban was reinstated three weeks ago, trauma units at Western Cape hospitals have been under less pressure.

Government reintroduced the regulation because evidence showed a direct link to trauma admissions in hospitals, where resources were needed to deal with COVID-19.

When the booze ban was briefly lifted, trauma admissions increased by more than 60% in the province.

Chief of operations for the Western Cape Department of Health, Saadiq Kariem, compared trauma cases from two weeks before the ban was reintroduced and after.

"The average daily trauma cases were 78 cases per day with weekend spikes as high as 140 cases. Then we looked at two weeks after that ban and we found the drop in our daily average trauma cases to 58 per day, which represents a reduction of 32.4%."

Weekend trauma submissions have fallen by over 50%.

Kariem said that the number of hospitalisations for COVID-19 were also decreasing.

"The occupancies come down to 68% of our total beds that are occupied as opposed to 72% or even higher than that at the peak of the pandemic. We were and still are confident that we can from a hospital perspective manage both the trauma loads that are coming in as well the COVID-19 patients that are requiring care."

He said that the premier and the rest of his cabinet were discussing the alcohol ban in a meeting on Friday.

"From our perspective of the Health Department, we've got the statistics and the data and I think from a policy perspective, the premier would have that conversation with his cabinet, I know it's happening because we are on a downward trend in the Western Cape province."

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