Accidents and domestic violence cases spike in Durban as booze ban is lifted
This as Prof Salim Abdool Karim warns that the lifting of restrictions is likely to result in a 'small rebound' in Covid-19 cases
Durban has seen a spike in vehicle accidents and incidents of domestic violence after the government lifted the prohibition of the sale of alcohol this week.
There has also been an increase in the number of house parties being hosted — despite “social gatherings” still being illegal under current level 3 lockdown regulations.
eThekwini metro police spokesperson Sen Supt Parboo Sewpersad said on Sunday that the force had seen more accidents, domestic violence cases and complaints of “partying at residences” in the past few days, compared to previous weeks.
This comes after ministerial advisory committee co-chair Prof Salim Abdool Karim told TimesLIVE last week that the lifting of restrictions was likely to result in a “small rebound in cases”.
“There is likely to be a small increase; it takes about seven to 10 days. I can’t predict how big it is going to be,” said Abdool Karim.
A month after reinstating the booze ban — in an attempt to reduce pressure on hospitals facing a second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic — President Cyril Ramaphosa announced last Monday that regulations would be eased.
Since then, metro police and paramedics in greater Durban, which is regarded as a Covid-19 hotspot, have had their hands full. Currently, KwaZulu-Natal has more than 40,000 active Covid-19 cases, by far the most across SA. The Western Cape has 11,200 active cases, and Gauteng 7,600.
“There has been an increase in everything, including domestic violence. Loud music disturbance complaints are also on the rise and partying at residences,” said Sewpersad.
Garrith Jamieson of Advanced Life Support paramedics said they have experienced more road accidents since the ban was lifted.
“As Covid numbers are decreasing, alcohol-related injuries are now increasing and this will definitely put pressure on hospitals,” he said.
Abdool Karim explained why restrictions were required in government's response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“The first is that alcohol-related medical conditions like pancreatitis, motor vehicle accidents and interpersonal violence ... they use the same medical facilities in the hospital that we need for Covid. They use the emergency room, the casualty department, the theatres, the ICUs and the high care, and the oxygen — all the same things that the Covid patients need.
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“When you have a situation where we are having to deal with all the alcohol-related problems at the same time as Covid, it’s a massive problem. That is why we have to restrict alcohol. We just need to restrict it when the hospitals are under huge pressure.
“The second reason is for prevention. We need alcohol restrictions in order to reduce the risks for super-spreading events.
“We don't want to have a rebound. Then we can only ease restrictions when the viral transmission is very low.
“It is quite low in most of the provinces. It's only a few provinces like KwaZulu-Natal where it is still not low enough,” said Abdool Karim.