South Africa returns to ban on alcohol sales as coronavirus surges

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South African President Cyril Ramaphosa says the country will immediately return to a ban on the sale of alcohol to reduce the volume of trauma patients so that hospitals have more beds open to treat COVID-19 patients.

Confronted by surging hospitalizations due to the coronavirus, South Africa is also reinstating a night curfew to reduce traffic accidents and made it mandatory for all residents to wear face masks when in public.

Read the latest updates in our dedicated coronavirus section.

Ramaphosa said, in a nationally televised address Sunday night, that top health officials warn of impending shortages of hospital beds and medical oxygen as South Africa reaches a peak of COVID-19 cases, expected between the end of July and September. He said some hospitals have had to turn away patients because all their beds are full.

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South Africa’s rapid increase in reported cases has made it one of the world’s centers for COVID-19, as it is ranked as the 9th country most affected by the disease, according to Johns Hopkins University. The country has reported increases of more than 10,000 confirmed cases for several days and the latest daily increase was nearly 13,500. South Africa accounts for 40 percent of all the confirmed cases in Africa, with 276,242, an increase of 12,058 in one day.

South Africa has recorded 4,079 deaths, 25 percent of which have been in the past week, said Ramaphosa.

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