Football teams are advised to ensure that their medical staff — including physiotherapists and masseurs, who are in constant contact with players — do not simultaneously work in environments or carry out external activities that could make them vulnerable to Coronavirus (COVID-19).
The South African Football Association (SAFA) has issued some guidelines for teams to follow as Coronavirus has been declared a pandemic by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
With infections and thousands of deaths reported in many countries, South Africa currently has 16 confirmed cases, with no deaths.
Health officials have emphasised the need for heightened hygiene practices.
SAFA tips for football teams:
– Do not drink from the same water bottle during the game or training. Always use a personalised water bottle and do not exchange other items (towels, bathrobes, etc.) with other players.
– Avoid eating food in the changing room.
– Keep your personal items and clothes in your bag and avoid leaving them exposed in the changing rooms or in the communal baskets.
– Throw paper handkerchiefs or other materials like plasters, bandages etc. immediately into the appropriate lockable containers.
– Wash your hands thoroughly, as often as possible. Hand washing and disinfection are essential to prevent infections. Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds and then dry them with a disposable towel after rinsing them thoroughly. If soap and water are not available, you can also use a hand disinfectant based on 60% alcohol.
– When using ordinary toilets, you should not touch the tap before and after washing your hands, but use disposable towels to open and close the tap.
– Do not touch your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands.
– Cover your mouth and nose with a handkerchief – preferably a disposable handkerchief – or with your arm, but not with your hand if you have a cough or sneeze.
– Players who show obvious symptoms of respiratory infection and/or fever before, during or after training must immediately leave the rest of the team, and isolate themselves if possible, and inform the club’s doctor, who will then – if there is any indication – take further steps.
– Inform the team players and the club officials if there has been any contact, either personally or within the family, with persons who have returned from risk areas or quarantine, or have been quarantined or tested or if you have been in a risk area yourself.
– Clubs should have automatic dispensers with disinfectant and cleaning solutions in the locker rooms and toilets of the club.
– The club shall ensure that tables, benches, chairs, hangers, floors, taps, handles, showers and toilets are regularly disinfected with disinfectant solutions based on bleach or chlorine, solvents, 75% ethanol, acetic acid and chloroform.
– The club shall take care to limit the presence of people in the changing room to a few specific authorised persons in order to limit the number of accesses as much as possible.
– The league and clubs should limit access to the field of play as far as possible to those personnel who are strictly necessary to carry out the training or match.
– The club doctors of professional teams must pay particular attention to the medical history, objective examination and, above all, the taking of temperature before each training session and the dressing before each match for all team personnel, coaches and players. The team doctors must ensure and document before each match and training session that no sick persons take part in the match or training or are in the team’s vicinity.
– Clubs must check in advance the hygienic conditions of all changing rooms, including the changing rooms of the host team, referees and ball boys, as well as room prepared for doping tests.
– The health officers of the clubs must actively participate in the organisation of the trips checking the best possible protective devices for preventative purposes, and they must ensure their presence throughout the trip.