Directors of Sports from the North West Zone have been advised to ensure that their athletes are tested for the COVID-19 virus and those that are negative are isolated in camps ahead of national competitions to avoid losing screening out of infected talented athletes ahead of national engagements.
Dr. Yahaya Ukwenya gave the advise, while delivering a lecture a the Federal Ministry of Sports, North West Zone’s Awareness for Safety Measures on COVID-19 Sports Participation Code and deliberation held at the Ahmadu Bello Stadium, Kaduna in Kaduna on Friday.
“Athletes must be tested twice before a competition.
“It is important that we begin testing early and adopt supervised isolation,” he advised.
Ukwenya, who is also the President of the Nigeria Cricket Federation said that a key principle of managing COVID-19 as sports administrators should be avoiding allowing athletes travel in large numbers on groups.
He said that although, all over the world, live audiences are not allowed yet at sports venues, it is important to create awareness b educating athletes.
“We have to make our sportsmen know about ways of transmission of the virus.
“For sports, it may not be the athletes that will get into trouble but their parents or administrators who are most vulnerable,” he stressed.
Dr. Yahaya Ukwenya, who is a Professor of Surgery and doubles as the Chairman of Kaduna State Cricket Association said that athletes should not be allowed to travel in congested vehicles to.prevent risk of infection.
“If you are going for festival, test them, isolate them from public so that you don’t lose athletes before competition through exposure in congested vehicles..
“Environment where the athletes are kept should be decontaminated, same should apply to festival venue.
“Every athlete should have a Sanitizer and there should be hand washing Facilities at strategic places,” he further advised.
In his lecture, Dr. Ukwenya said that though he is a surgeon, the issue of COVID-19 is important because health workers are more at risk of infection.
He explained that COVID-19 is caused by SARS CoronaVirus 2019.
“There were other CoronaVirus in the past but they didn’t have ability to infect humans,” he informed.
He said the virus is spread by contact through droplets or hands through inanimate objects.
He advised that most people that spread the disease don’t even have symptoms.
“When an individual in an enclosed place drops the droplets, it is then spread,” he explained.
He said such spread can be reduced through use of facemasks and social distancing.
“Where there is a large gathering of crowd, it encourages a lot of spread,” he advised.
He said anybody can catch the virus, but risk factors include age, underlying disease conditions, become soft targets for virus.
“When a person’s immunity is down, it is easier to be affected. The younger the population, the more the resistance to the disease.
“Nigeria has a younger population than Europe and America, which makes it appear that the devastating impact of the disease in Nigeria is less.
“Some may have the disease with a mild symptom and it passes and it may not even be noticed that it was COVID-19 unless they are tested.
“The small fraction of the elderly are to be protected because they are important like parents and leaders,” he added.
Dr. Ukwenya stressed that there is no known cure for COVID-19 and it has sparked controversies all over the world.
“What can be done to.check COVID-19 is the vaccine which is being developed.
“The medical practitioners all over the world do not want to create a problem worse than COVID-19 so they are bidding time to come up with safe vaccine.
“We do hope that by early next year, vaccine for COVID-19 will be available. Before then, we have to look for avenues to protect ourselves,” he pointed out.
He recalled that some weeks ago, they had a patient exposed to COVID-19 and they were not expected to test patients before operation.
“It ended after three hours successfully but three days later, she started having breathing difficulty. I suggested they test her for COVID-19 and she was positve, causing wild panic. We found out a doctor, a nurse and a patient all tested positive from contact,” he lamented.
He said that symptoms to look out for are fever, sore throat, loss of taste or smell, adding that it becomes more definite when a patient is coughing and having breathing difficulty.
“The other protection is to use three basic measures including facemasks, avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth. That is why we are encouraged to use sanitisers and wash hands frequently. The third is social distancing,” he informed.
He harped that the important thing about COVID-19 is that people should show no fear.
Speaking further, he said that sports offers opportunity to spread COVID-19 so it is good that the directors are present, so they know how to curtail its spread.
“The most important response to CoronaVirus is to not have fear but be cautious. We should make sure the athletes are well educated,” he emphasized.