“It’s unethical to reveal Covid-19 patients names”

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The South African Football Association (SAFA) Chief Medical Officer Dr Thulani Ngwenya says it is unethical for clubs or health workers to reveal the names of the players who tested positive for the coronavirus.

Dr Ngwenya’s statement comes after a number of Premier Soccer League (PSL) clubs including Kaizer Chiefs, Swallows FC and Stellenbosch FC withheld the names of the players confirmed to have tested positive out of respect to the individuals and doctor confidentially.

However, Orlando Pirates and Bloemfontein Celtic did release the names of the players who tested positive for the virus; Ben Motshwari, who has since recovered and Given Mashikinya.

“The Club has reported two positive cases of COVID-19. We will respect the individuals and doctor confidentiality,” said Kaizer Chiefs in a statement. 

“As far as confidentiality is concerned, patient confidentiality is key. We don’t have to go out there and say “Thulani Ngwenya” has tested positive. That’s unethical. We can just put it out that there is a positive case at the club,” said SAFA’s Chief Medical Officer on Tuesday in an interview on SA FM Radio programme – Sport On.

“When you have tested positive, the document is clear. All those testing positive must self-isolate for 14 days. They will then be re-tested. If cleared, they can rejoin the team.

“You must also remember that when they return to training, it’s still another process, it will be staggered. It won’t be full-blown training, like when everyone trains at the same time,” added Dr Ngwenya.

According to the Doctor, a particular athlete tested positive and after 14 days of self-isolating, the player was re-tested, and they were still positive. “Then 7 days later, they became negative. This virus is still new to all of us, there are still a lot of things we are learning”

“Clubs can still return to training, even if there are positive cases. If the majority is negative, absolutely. You can just quarantine the players who are positive because it will be staggered training. We have stated that the first week is individual training,” – Dr Ngwenya. Picture: Twitter Dr Ngwenya

“The second week is departmental training, like strikers, midfielders, etc. The third week is when the full team can start training together. You must also remember that the players are still at home. They haven’t been in contact. The tests were individual. So, the risk is minimal,” said the Bafana Bafana Team Doctor.

“The way we have structured the document, the second round of testing will be done 48 hours before players go into the bio bubble. This time is dependent on when the government gives us the time frame for the resumption of games. But for those testing positive, it’s 14 days.”

SAFA still believes that the safest time to restart the football season is at Level 1, but Dr Ngwenya said: “We had a special request from the PSL, to say, can we consider the issue of contracts, the livelihoods of players.

“That’s when we developed this document which we presented to the government. In the document, we have accommodated professional football’s request. So now that’s why we can play at any time when the government deems fit.

“When I spoke to fitness and conditioning trainers, especially the one at Mamelodi Sundowns, Kabelo Rangoaga, he said we can start playing 3 weeks after players return to full-blown training,” concluded Dr Ngwenya.

RELATED STORY: SAFA details plan for the return of football

By Tokelo Martin Mokhesi

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