Alcohol and rising African COVID-19 numbers
By Tasie Theodore
A renewed onslaught on alcohol consumption in Africa’s most COVID-19 infected country, South Africa is reviving the discussion once again about whether the consumption of liquour has anything to do with the spike in numbers of cases in the continent.
Within the week, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa and the country’s Police Chief linked the new cases spike to alcohol consumption and the authorities have presently moved to expand the curfew hours within which bars and restaurants would not be permitted to remain open.
“As we had to in the early days of the lockdown, we now have to flatten the curve to protect the capacity of our healthcare system to enable it to respond effectively to this new wave of infections…Reckless behaviour due to alcohol intoxication has contributed to increased transmission. Alcohol-related accidents and violence are putting pressure on our hospital emergency units.”
The restrictions imposed include limits on the number of people that can gather, with exemptions being made for funerals.
On his part, Police Chief Bheki Cele is on record as warning restaurant operators to no longer hide and serve alcohol in teapots to their clients to avoid detection, stating that officers were already very well aware of that practice.
COVID-19 cases recently crossed the provocative one million mark in the rainbow nation with the country now recording as many as 14, 000 cases daily.
Home to some 16 percent of the world’s population, many of the world’s leading brewers have been making stronger inroads into the continent in recent years, arguing that the continent only consumes just about five percent of the global alcohol intake at the moment and as such has a growth opportunity.
WHO Chief, Teodros Ghebreyesus