“The place to host PSL camp should not be a hotspot”

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With the Premier Soccer League (PSL) board of governors set to meet today to decide on the location to host the proposed PSL camp among other issues, the SA Football Association (SAFA) chief medical officer Dr Thulani Ngwenya has explained the ideal place to house all the 32 clubs in a single province.

The PSL BOG will also deliberate on the resumption dates for training and playing with the GladAfrica Championship, Absa Premiership, and the Nedbank Cup still up for grabs in the suspended 2019/20 campaign due to the coronavirus pandemic.

A few days after the government gave the go-ahead for the PSL to resume, a number of PSL clubs – Orlando Pirates, Kaizer Chiefs, Bloemfontein Celtic, Stellenbosch FC, TS Galaxy, TS Sporting, and Swallows FC all reported positive Covid-19 cases.

Dr Ngwenya says an ideal place is a ‘biologically safe environment’ (BSE) for a safe return to action. Picture: SAFA.

According to the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD), the latest confirmed cases of Covid-19 in South Africa as of 29 June 2020 is 144 264 with 6 132 new cases identified. A total of 1 596 995 tests have been processed cumulatively of which 29 911 tests have been conducted since the last report.

Health minister Zweli Mkhize warned that ‘the worst is yet to come’.

Gauteng with 180 deaths and the highest of confirmed positive cases is what the government regards as an ‘epicentre and a hotspot’ for Covid-19.

“There is a proposal of a biologically safe environment. And that document does not name a place‚ but it describes what type of a place it should be‚” said Dr Ngwenya in an online press conference of the SA Football Journalists Association (Safja).

“The place should not be regarded as an epicentre or hotspot by the government. It should have enough space to accommodate all the clubs. It talks about single-room occupancy. The place should have enough training and playing fields.”

When the league was suspended in March Kaizer Chiefs was at the summit of the log standings, followed closely by Mamelodi Sundowns. Picture: Downs.

“The plan says that 48 hours before the teams go to that biologically safe environment they are going to be tested again‚” added the SAFA medical chief.

Dr Ngwenya went on state that the second testing will try and eliminate the possibility of having a false negative test from the first test.

“And now that you are 48 hours away from the BSE‚ those who are cleared will go to a mini-camp wherever they are. Because we don’t want them‚ after a second test‚ going home and being contaminated.

“That’s where the importance of the team doctor and compliance officer comes in. They go from this 48-hour mini-camp to the BSE. In that BSE‚ everyone who goes in will not be allowed out until the games are completed.

GladAfrica Championship side Ajax Cape Town are leading the race to gain automatic promotion, seven points clear of second-placed Swallows FC. Picture: Ajax.

“In there‚ they will be screened on a daily basis. Anyone with symptoms will be further evaluated by the team doctor‚ who will report back to the person overseeing the BSE‚ and we will decide whether to test or isolate the individual.

Dr Ngwenya revealed that an isolation area outside will be close to the BSE in case someone tests positive and the whole team and technical staff will be tested again too.

The document is comprehensive but if followed to a ‘T’, the chances of recording a positive case are very minimal less than one percent, says Dr Ngwenya.

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By Tokelo Martin Mokhesi 

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