Trauma units in Western Cape hospitals ‘taking strain’
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Cape Town - Several hospitals in the Western Cape are reportedly taking strain as Covid-19 infections continue to rise.
This follows the partial lifting of the alcohol ban by President Cyril Ramaphosa under alert level 3 last week.
Provincial health department spokesperson Mark van der Heever said the department has seen an increase in trauma cases.
“We are, however, not in a position to directly link this to the alcohol ban being relaxed as we saw a variety of trauma presentations across several hospitals.
“We are reviewing the data as it comes in from the hospitals and should be able to communicate on the size of the impact soon.
“But even though our hospitals were seen to be busier, feedback from our clinicians is that our health system was able to cope.
“All trauma cases coming (in) are not and cannot always be ascribed to alcohol as we see many motor vehicle accidents, pedestrian accidents, self-harm incidents,” he said.
Premier Alan Winde said the province is approaching its third-wave peak of infections, with cases, hospitalisations and deaths still increasing, albeit at different rates.
Winde said the progression of a wave of infections is that, at first, the infections start to plateau, then it is followed by the hospital admissions, and only then the deaths.
“This has happened at different times in different places across the country, as we have seen in both the first and second waves, and requires heightened vigilance, especially at the peak when there is the highest number of infected people and greater pressure on our health-care system.
“That is why we all have to take responsibility during this time to protect ourselves and our loved ones, by practising the life-saving behaviours we have learnt over the last 16 months,“ he said.
Dr Jo Barnes from the department of global health at Stellenbosch University said the news of excess trauma cases during a pandemic is not helping to change people’s behaviour.
“Alcohol misuse on a large scale has been a feature of many South African communities for more than a century. Very little has been done to address the behaviour or the root causes behind this behaviour.
“It is a very bad time to try and address problem drinking in the middle of a pandemic and then to use the blunt instrument of banning to do it. The problem needs a much more sophisticated approach. It also needs political will. So far, little constructive planning seems to have taken place to achieve this,” Barnes said.