Trauma Trends During COVID-19 Alcohol Prohibition at a South African Regional Hospital
The objective of this study was to examine the relationship between trauma volume and alcohol prohibition during the COVID-19 lockdown in South Africa.
This was a retrospective analysis of trauma volume from Worcester Regional Hospital in South Africa from 1 January to 28 December 2020. The study compared total volume and incidence rates during five calendar periods; one when alcohol sales were allowed as per normal and four when alcohol sales were completely or partially banned. Poisson regression was used to model differences between alcohol ban and non-ban periods.
During the first period (pre-COVID-19, no ban), the trauma admission rate was 95 per 100 days, compared to 39 during the second period (complete ban 1), 74 during the third period (partial ban 1), 40 during the fourth period (complete ban 2) and 105 during the fifth period (partial ban 2). There was a 59–69% decrease in trauma volume between the no ban and complete ban 1 periods. When alcohol sales were partially reinstated, trauma volume significantly increased by 83–90% then dropped again by 39–46% with complete ban 2. By the second half of 2020, when alcohol sales were partially allowed again (partial ban 2), trauma volume increased by 163–250%, thus returning to pre-COVID-19 levels.
Discussion and Conclusions
This study demonstrates a clear trend of decreased trauma volume during periods of complete alcohol prohibition compared to non- and partial alcohol bans. This finding suggests that temporary alcohol bans can be used to decrease health facility traffic during national emergencies.