Doctors warn PSL. . . as local coronavirus cases increase

Godknows Matarutse

THE Senior Hospital Doctors Association (SHDA) has warned Zifa and the Premier Soccer League (PSL) to avoid creating a disaster should they get the nod to resume football in September.

Zifa and PSL are increasingly confident of a September kickoff and the association’s health and competitions committees have drafted a document which carries guidelines to be followed for  safe resumption of football in the wake of the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.
This comes as the country is grappling with a spike in new Covid-19 cases this winter with almost over 100 confirmed cases daily.
As of yesterday, at least 26 people had passed away from the novel virus from the confirmed
1 700 cases.
Initially, the 2020 season should have commenced in March but had to be postponed when the virus began to spread in the country.
With local football authorities now making plans for a September resumption; SHDA secretary-general Aaron Musara has warned that the country is yet to reach its peak and the game must be careful to avoid worsening the situation.
“I think they (PSL and Zifa) are in a tricky situation really. You would find that Zimbabwe is yet to reach its peak and from the discussions we had as doctors, it’s between September and November that we expect the disease to reach its peak,” Musara told the Daily News yesterday.
“From the position of the PSL it’s understandable, they want the season to start and it’s good that they are working on modalities on safety. In terms of planning its fine what and it means is they are organised, what will be risky is to execute plans that are dangerous.”
Musara said since the virus has created an unprecedented global pandemic, the football authorities need to be careful or else it will lead to disaster.
“I think they will have to keep on checking to ensure whatever they do will be from an informed position. And based from the discussions that we had as doctors, I think they will have to plan so that they don’t create a disaster,’ he said.
“As it stands, everything points to an increase in numbers and we really need to be very careful. We are still on the lower patterns and the numbers are likely to grow.”
Meanwhile, PSL chief executive Kenny Ndebele told the Daily News that they are taking all the necessary precautions and will not rush to start the season without having received the green light from the government and health authorities.
“The process is ongoing, the document on the guidelines to be followed should football resume is out but it will remain confidential until it gets to all the relevant stakeholders, the Sports and Recreation Commission, government and Zifa for deliberations,” Ndebele said.
“Of course, the recent numbers are worrisome but we are hoping the situation will improve and we can start our season in September as previously projected.
“We remain optimistic that we can start the season in September and we are appealing to all football fans to observe all the guidelines to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
“We are, of course, cautious and will stand guided by the relevant authorities on whether we can start.”
The PSL boss said the recent resumption of the Zambian Super League north of the border has given local football hope.
Zambia’s top flight league which was suspended in March finally resumed with a number of hiccups at the weekend as a number of teams reported positives tests among their players and officials.
“We are also taking comfort from our neighbours Zambia where football has resumed. Should we be given the go ahead, we will obviously have to religiously follow all the guidelines as inscribed by Caf and the health and local competitions committee.”

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