Hold off!

Hold off!

Dr Guy says COVID-19 numbers too high for sports to resume now

Observer staff reporter

Thursday, February 11, 2021

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Opposition spokesman on health Dr Morais Guy says he fears the Government giving the go-ahead for the resumption of sporting activities may result in an influx of COVID-19 cases across the island. This comes after Jamaica saw record-breaking COVID-19 numbers, with 1,935 cases being recorded in the past week.

“In light of the new spike in numbers, I would recommend that caution be taken to hold off for some time longer. With the current numbers and the resumption of sporting [disciplines] in whatever form there is, the likelihood of a greater spread considering the numbers we have now, plus the interaction of players with each other and the community,” Dr Guy told the Jamaica Observer.

Late last week the Government gave the green light for resuming sporting activities, but on a case-by-case basis and without spectators.

The announcement was made by Minister of Sport Olivia Grange in a release which revealed that provision for the resumption of sporting activities has been included in the latest Disaster Risk Management Order issued by the Government.

The minister said that under the order, which is the Government's tool for regulating social behaviour during the current pandemic brought on by the novel coronavirus, organisers of sports events must first send an application to the director of sports in her ministry.

The application will be examined to see if it meets the requirements as outlined in the order, after which it will be transmitted to the director general of the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM). If ODPEM is satisfied after consulting with the Ministry of Health and Wellness that the venue is appropriate, that sanitisation, mask-wearing and distancing protocols will be strictly observed, then approval will be granted.

On Monday, Jamaica recorded 403 new cases, the highest single-day count. And as at Tuesday, the total number of cases was 17,908.

So, to prevent sporting activities from becoming COVID-19 super-spreader events, Dr Guy urged the Government to reconsider.

“I would suggest that the Government hold off for another four weeks and then make an assessment at that time. If numbers remain high even then, hold off. If they come down, then we could resume sporting [disciplines] in a limited form,” he reasoned.

Dr Che Bowen, chief executive officer and founder of MDLink, shares Dr Guy's view. He said the activities should only resume if players, teams and their families are tested before every event.

“… If the sports teams are being tested before every practice with antigen tests, then yes I would say it's a go-ahead and it's safe and necessary from the point of view that it helps keep the children aligned, motivated, out of trouble, even. From that perspective, yes, we do need the return of sports and how much it does for the culture, country and the nation,” said Dr Bowen.

In addition, international media have pointed to Super Bowl 2021 as an example of what could go wrong with sporting events during the pandemic.

This is so, as following the home town Tampa Bay Buccaneers' victory over the Kansas City Chiefs, many celebratory fans were seen ignoring guidelines – partying without masks and barely social distancing – worrying health-care workers.

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