Fear is mounting for essential care workers in hospitals across the Western Cape following the lift of the alcohol ban on June 1. The decision to lift the ban was highly contested, as it would put additional strain on an already stretched healthcare resources.
Head of Communications for the provincial Health Department, Mark van der Heever, said on average, Groote Schuur Hospital saw eight patients a day during the lockdown, which has now increased to 20 since Monday [June 1]. The Helderberg Hospital has also reported a 100% increase. This increase comes at a time where gang-related violence on the Cape Flats has also increased dramatically.
The Economic Freedom Fighers (EFF) are among those who have called for the ban to be reinstated. Doctors and other health professionals have also voiced their frustration about the lifting of the ban so early.
Dr Kim Alexander, whose video was shared on the Intern Community Service Placement (ICSP) Facebook page has provided a frontline perspective of the lifting of the alcohol ban.
“Yes, I get that the economy has been suffering,” she says, “but so have the essential healthcare workers.”
She emphasised that things were already extremely difficult as they dealt with COVID-19 on its own. Healthcare workers are over-worked and Personal Protective Equipment resources are lacking.
Alexander stressed that she didn’t understand why the government would lift the alcohol ban when: “The peak of the pandemic is going to hit us in June and July and we are expecting about 9 000 deaths in South Africa or maybe even just the Western Cape, our infection rate is rising, and our ICU’s are filling up with COVID patients.”
“To be expected, as a healthcare worker that has sacrificed for the last few months, to deal with all the trauma, which might I add is unnecessary trauma,” is very unfair on healthcare workers. Alexandra added that trauma units were filling up with people who “misuse” substances, and they have to deal with violent patients and unsanitary situations.
Dr Keith Cloete, Chief of Operations for Western Cape Health Department, said during a live digi-conference today [June 4] that there has been an increase in cases in emergency units and trauma units following the alcohol ban lift.
Chris Hani Barangwanath in Johannesburg reported that their trauma numbers have nearly doubled.