Holes in BFA's COVID-19 bio bubble

In camp: The Under-20 team registered a COVID-19 case PIC: BFA
In camp: The Under-20 team registered a COVID-19 case PIC: BFA

The Botswana Football Association (BFA) will need to tighten its screws on COVID-19 restrictions as the bio-bubble continues to prove pregnable. The outbreak of COVID-19 has seen the growing use of the bio-bubble, an arrangement meant to limit players' interaction with the outside world to curb infections.

This essentially involves instituting protocols to be followed during hotel stay, travel or transportation to venues, training sessions, actual sports events and recreational spots. The bio-bubble has across the world aided a smooth return of competitive sporting activities, and the biggest test was at the 2020 Olympics Games.

The competition held in Tokyo recorded just seven cases involving games-concerned personnel, who were either athletes or team officials. This proved the effectiveness of the bio-bubble. Locally, it is a common practice for teams to assemble at the Lekidi Football Centre ahead of international matches. The centre has been put as the country’s bio-bubble but continues to record positive cases. A month ago, the BFA revealed to this publication that three players from the Double Action squad tested positive for coronavirus.

The team was preparing for the COSAFA CAF Champions Women's League qualifiers held in South Africa. Of the 22 players in camp, 19 travelled to Durban. Over the past weekend, the Mares left without head coach, Gaolethoo 'Ronaldo' Nkutlwisang. The gaffer tested positive for COVID-19 during a mandatory test done before the trip. This publication has also been informed that the Under-20 women's team, left for Angola last week with a player down. The said player also tested positive and missed the team's 4-1 win in the first leg of the first round of the 2022 FIFA U-20 World Cup qualifiers. Zebras' midfielders, Kago Monyake and Mothusi Cooper, also tested positive ahead of the COSAFA Cup in July.

BFA chief executive officer, Goabaone Taylor said the association does it utmost to ensure strict adherence. “There are many variables that can result in positive cases an example being that, we continue to call players into camp as part of the player assessment process, and at times when the players report for camp they may be some who are already positive but still not giving a positive result. We have in the past returned players before joining others because they would have been found to already be infected.

This clearly shows that the infection may not necessarily be construed to have occurred whilst in camp,” Taylor said. “Despite this, several scenarios can still lead to the discovery of positive cases whilst teams are in camp an example being either a player or official coming into camp while positive but with the virus being under incubation which may not be detectable on the first test,” BFA chief executive officer,” she said. Taylor said the BFA has put strict measures in place to curb reduce the circulation of the virus in case it finds it self inside the bio-bubble. “We have recently resolved to test those in camp with rapid and PCR at some of the times and not allowing interactions before receiving test results. We have also resolved to reduce interaction between those in camp and those not. We have trained and appointed safety and security officers to ensure safety protocols are adhered to by all,” Taylor said.

Editor's Comment
What about employees in private sector?

How can this be achieved when there already is little care about the working conditions of those within the private sector employ?For a long time, private sector employees have been neglected by their employers, not because they cannot do better to care for them, but because they take advantage of government's laxity when it comes to protecting and advocating for public sector employees, giving the cue to employers within the private sector...

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