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WHERE IS COVID-19 – ALCOHOL LINK?

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 Sir,

Reading Sibusiso Zwane’s well-constructed Page 4 article on Monday, the first thing that jumped out were the figures of 812 COVID-19 cases recorded from mid-March to the end of June: 812 people, which equates to 232 cases each month. This when alcoholic beverages were freely available for much of the time. Going on to July, this jumps to 1 836 cases. No alcohol officially available!


Government has remained strangely mum on this one and apparently resolutely stubborn on the alcohol ban, while the black market thrives. But there has to be a scapegoat – while the other glaringly clear possible causes of the alarming July figures are apparently swept under the carpet!


Evidence


This is despite lack of any scientific evidence that the few drinkers who misbehaved were the cause of most cases prior to July! And there has been no suggestion that the July figure might be due to the appalling lack of protocol observance among schoolgoers, laxity on public transport, apparently reduced policing and a habit of wearing masks at half-mast – an attitude bordering on arrogance with ignorance.


Returning to Sibusiso’s narrative, he goes on to seek commentary from the government spokesman, whose non-committal response about government’s focus was worryingly evasive,  while it appears that the other two questions on the relationship between alcohol/whether the curve had flattened and the July figures seemed to be evaded altogether.


Similarly, the medical expert who was consulted stated that social infections account for 10 per cent of cases while 70 per cent happen at home!! He needs to elaborate on this. Why so many at home? Could it not be due to behaviour at private house parties??


Today we have the distressing news that SA Beverages will curtail up to E5 billion worth of capital investment in 2020 and 2021. This will inevitably affect Eswatini in an industry that has been brought to its knees through the ill-advised and considered alcohol ban. The cost in jobs, incomes, tax revenue and to the overall economy is far in excess of any possible advantages, which have yet to be proved, while the July infection rate speaks for itself.


There is too much flawed reasoning. Too much remains unsaid and unaccounted for. There is too much spurious rhetoric. Government must provide scientific evidence to justify its actions. It is the least that is owed to the people and businesses of Eswatini, particularly the closely inter-related hospitality, tourism and liquor trade sectors.

Concerned citizen

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