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the coronavirus crisis

South Africa bans alcohol sales, closes bars to try to stop spread of coronavirus

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa announced on Monday another ban on alcohol sales in the country, saying that "reckless behavior due to alcohol intoxication has contributed to increased transmission" of the coronavirus.

South Africa has recorded more than 1 million coronavirus cases, with nearly 27,000 deaths. The South African Medical Association said the country's hospital system could soon be overwhelmed due to COVID-19 cases and patients needing treatment for alcohol-related injuries. Earlier in the pandemic, there was a total ban on liquor sales in South Africa, and alcohol-related trauma cases dropped by 60 percent, The Guardian reports.

In addition to a ban on alcohol sales, Ramaphosa also announced that for at least the next few weeks, bars and certain beaches will be closed and masks will be mandatory in public; anyone who doesn't follow this order will have to pay a fine or face criminal charges. If the number of new cases and hospitalizations starts to drop, Ramaphosa said he will consider relaxing the restrictions.

South Africa has seen a surge in cases, with more than 50,000 reported since Christmas Eve. Experts believe a new variant of the virus thought to be more infectious is making its way through some parts of the country. Over the past two weeks, the seven-day rolling average of confirmed daily cases in South Africa has increased from 11.18 new cases per 100,000 people on Dec. 13 to 19.87 new cases per 100,000 people on Dec. 27.