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South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has reimposed a ban on the sale of alcohol and ordered the closure of all bars as part of new restrictions to help the country combat the resurgence of coronavirus, including a new variant.

Ramaphosa also announced the closure of all public beaches and swimming pools in the country’s hotspots, which include Cape Town, Johannesburg, Durban, and several coastal areas.

In addition, South Africa is extending its nightly curfew by four hours, requiring all residents to be home from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m., the president said.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa visits a field hospital in Johannesburg. (AP Photo / Jerome Delay)

“Reckless behavior due to alcohol intoxication has contributed to increased transmission. Alcohol-related accidents and violence are putting pressure on the emergency units of our hospital,” Ramaphosa said in a national speech.

“As we had to do in the early days of the lockdown, we now have to flatten the curve to protect the capacity of our healthcare system and enable it to respond effectively to this new wave of infections,” he said.

Ramaphosa said the ban on selling alcohol and other new restrictions would take effect at midnight.

They include the mandatory wearing of masks in public, and anyone who does not wear a mask in a public place will be subject to a fine or criminal charge punishable by a possible jail sentence, the president said.

Ramaphosa said the increased restrictions are necessary due to an increase in COVID-19 infections that has caused the total confirmed virus cases in South Africa to exceed one million.

“Nearly 27,000 South Africans are known to have died from COVID-19. The number of new coronavirus infections is increasing at an unprecedented rate,” he said.

“More than 50,000 new cases have been reported since Christmas Eve.”

A man stores a display rack of alcohol bottles at a liquor store in Johannesburg. (AP Photo / Denis Farrell)

Ramaphosa announced the new measures after a cabinet meeting and an emergency meeting of the National Coronavirus Command Council.

He said the new restrictions would be reviewed in a few weeks and would only be considered a relaxation when the number of new cases and hospitalizations declined.

The country surpassed the one million mark in confirmed virus cases Sunday night, when authorities reported that the country’s total cases during the pandemic had reached 1,004,413, including 26,735 deaths.

Like Britain, South Africa is battling a variant of COVID-19 that medical experts believe is more contagious than the original.

The variant has become dominant in many parts of the country, according to experts.

The South African Medical Association, representing nurses and other healthcare workers as well as physicians, warned yesterday that the healthcare system was about to be overwhelmed by the combination of increased numbers of COVID-19 patients and people. needing urgent attention due to alcohol. related incidents.

Many Christmas gatherings involve high levels of alcohol consumption, which in turn often leads to an increase in trauma cases.

“To ease the pressure on the system during this time of year where we only have skeletal staff working, especially in the public sector as well as the private sector, we are calling for stricter restrictions on social gatherings,” Angelique Coetzee, president of the medical association, he told The Associated Press.

“South Africa has a history of very high alcohol abuse and heavy drinking, especially on the weekends. In certain areas, this leads to many cases of trauma, assault, car accidents and domestic violence,” he said.

The medical association has asked the government to impose stricter restrictions on the sale of alcohol, especially when it comes to large concentrations.

When South Africa previously had a total ban on the sale of liquor, trauma cases in hospitals fell by as much as 60 percent, according to government statistics.

When the ban on the sale of alcohol was lifted, trauma cases returned to previous levels.

Workers carry alcoholic beverages purchased outside the Sam Liquor Store in Thokoza Township, near Johannesburg, South Africa. (AP Photo / Themba Hadebe)

Amid a resurgence of COVID-19 in early December, South Africa limited alcohol sales Monday through Thursday between 10 a.m. M. And 6 p.m. M.

The country also has a nightly curfew from 11 p.m. to 4 a.m.

Several alcohol dealers had pleaded with the government to avoid a total ban on the sale of alcohol, citing the economic damage it would cause.

South Africa’s alcohol industry was among the worst hit when the country imposed a strict lockdown during April and May that also banned all liquor sales.

South Africa’s seven-day moving average of daily confirmed cases has risen in the past two weeks from 11.18 new cases per 100,000 people on December 13 to 19.87 new cases per 100,000 people on December 27.

The seven-day moving average of daily deaths in the country has risen in the past two weeks from 0.26 deaths per 100,000 people on December 13 to 0.49 deaths per 100,000 people on December 27.

Ramaphosa urged people to avoid gatherings for New Year’s Eve.

Instead, he asked all South Africans to light candles.

“I will light a candle in Cape Town at exactly midnight on New Year’s Eve in memory of those who have lost their lives and in honor of those on the front lines working to save our lives and protect us from harm,” he said.

“I ask you to join me wherever you are in this very important symbolic gesture.”

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