Mbabane: With premier league teams continuing with their routine daily training sessions amid the outbreak of the coronavirus, a whopping 350 players are at risk of infection.
In a press briefing on Monday afternoon at Sigwaca House, Eswatini Football Association (EFA) Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Frederick Mngomezulu did not discourage clubs to curb their training sessions as seen in high risk countries across the globe. To date, the country has only nine confirmed case of COVID-19.
The disease, caused by coronavirus was subsequently declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organisation (WHO) on March 11. Averagely, a premier league club has 25 registered players and there are 14 elite teams in Eswatini.
The EFA executive, after a lengthy meeting on Monday gave a directive to its Medical Committee headed by Vice President Dr. Comfort Shongwe to roll-out educative exercises to its members in conjunction with the Ministry of Health.
The COVID-19 virus cannot be cured and it is proving difficult to contain. Antibiotics do not work against viruses, so they are out of the question. Antiviral drugs can work, but the process of understanding a virus and then develop and produce drugs to treat it would take years and huge amounts of money.
According to a report carried by Mail-Online, no vaccine exists for the coronavirus yet and it is not likely one will be developed in time to be of any use in the current outbreak, for similar reasons to the above.
The National Institutes of Health in the US, and Baylor University in Waco, Texas, say they are working on a vaccine based on what they know about coronaviruses in general, using information from the SARS outbreak. But this may take a year or more to develop, according to Pharmaceutical Technology.
Currently, governments and health authorities including Eswatini are working to contain the virus and to care for patients who are sick and stop them infecting other people. The Lubombo Referral Hospital has already been identified by government to be a centre for the pandemic.
A pandemic is defined by the World Health Organization as the ‘worldwide spread of a new disease.
Mngomezulu said that local football remains suspended and so are international travels. EFA banned football activities last Friday, hours before the eagerly anticipated Eswatini Bank Cup quarterfinals, causing confusion, frustrations and panic across the football community.
“All football activities in the country have been suspended indefinitely due to the coronavirus. We are still going to meet with all relevant stakeholders on Monday to monitor the situation and we will inform the nation and the local football fraternity on the way forward in due course,” he said.
Following Monday’s meeting, EFA revealed that the executive will meet again on April 2, 2020 to analyze the situation and take a decision, but it is earmarked that, depending on the severity of the outbreak, football will resume on April 4.
“The Executive Committee will meet on April 2 to assess the evolution of the pandemic and advance further guidelines. If the situation would have improved, warranting that football competitions could resume, will issue a revised calendar for the remainder of the football business for the year,” he said. Also postponed according to Mngomezulu was senior football national team Sihlangu AFCON 2021 back-to-back qualifier match against Congo Brazzaville, in a decision taken collectively with the world governing body FIFA and the continental body CAF.