Pirates positive coronavirus case won’t affect PSL resumption

South Africa Premier Soccer League (PSL) side Orlando Pirates say this is not the time to press the panic button
Orlando Pirates’ players react during the Nedbank Cup Last 32 football match between Orlando Pirates and Bidvest Wits at the Orlando Stadium in Soweto on February 9, 2020. (Photo by Phill Magakoe / AFP)

South Africa Premier Soccer League (PSL) side Orlando Pirates say this is not the time to press the panic button after one of their players tested positive for coronavirus.

The club confirmed their midfielder Ben Motshwari had tested positive for the virus on Friday. The player is currently at his home in isolation for a 14-day period.

Orlando Pirates administrative manager Floyd Mbele speaking to the media advised people to remain observant and not panic over the current situation.

“Let us not think too far. This is just one in 480 (PSL) players. This is not a time where we can start to panic. We are being responsible citizens by sharing this information. We could have easily kept quiet,” Mbele said.

“The messaging is consistent. This goes to show that this thing (the coronavirus) is there. We’ve been talking about it when it was not here. We must take all the protective measures, stay at home and practice social distancing,” Mbele concluded.

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Also, sports physicist with the PSL Dr. Mahlane Phalane says Motshwari’s case won’t affect the idea of the PSL playing the remaining games behind closed doors.

“No, not necessarily, it is not an obstacle in the PSL’s bid to resume action. We can create a level environment.

“Had we implemented our plan a long time ago, the risk for these players contracting the virus would be much lower. If we were isolated with strict control measures, we would have been in a better position. But for now, players are mingling with their families and friends. They can even go to malls. The risk is much higher now as we speak than if we were to implement the interventions that we proposed,” Dr Phalane explained.

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“Our first proposal is to say, ‘let us test them wherever they are’. We’ve already got six Premier League teams in Gauteng, three in Limpopo, three in KwaZulu-Natal, two in Western Province and one in Eastern Cape. Then everyone who is negative can move and we can bring them to Gauteng and isolate them for 14 days. Even within the team, make sure that they don’t interact because if one player is positive, he is going to spread it.

“In essence, we can have another pre-season in one season. In two weeks, there will be no multi-contact activities. After that we can test them for a second time; if they are negative, then they can have limited interaction as a team. So, if you’ve tested negative twice, what risk is there? We’ve created level one and below for them to be able to resume,” he added.

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Football followers hope the Premiership resumes soon as the stage is set for thrilling finishes to the season both at the top and bottom of the table.

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