Football journalists implored not to relax in adhering to COVID-19 preventive measures as fans allowed to watch matches

* This is amidst fears of possible second wave of the pandemic

* Presidential task force also asks journalists not to relent in reporting on dangers of relaxation

* One new death recorded on Sunday, bringing total figure to 187 since April

By Duncan Mlanjira

Football Association of Malawi (FAM) gave Super League of Malawi (SULOM) the go-ahead to allow supporters to patronise matches with strict instructions on the adherence of COVID-19 preventive measures that are still in force.

The preventive measures being tasked on fans upon entry into the stadia include compulsory wearing of masks, hand sanitizing at the entry points and observing social distancing.

Mbeza (2nd left) hands over the reflectors

These measures are in force and taking cognizance that other stakeholders such as journalists also need to be protected, Football Journalists Association (FJA) was tasked by SULOM and the football mother body, FAM to be monitoring and making sure that reporters are also leading by example by following all the COVID-19 measures at all the venues.

The association has used part of the COVID-19 Relief Fund from FIFA and Confederation of African Football (CAF) through FAM to purchase personal protective equipments (PPE) for its members across the country. 

Just before the match between Nyasa Big Bullets and Red Lions at Kamuzu Stadium on Sunday, FJA distributed reflector bibs and face masks to its members, which were branded by a new-found partner — Evel and Chris Printers Company.

Speaking at the presentation ceremony of the equipment held at Malawi National Council of Sports in Blantyre, FJA vice-chairperson Deitrich Frederich said they are geared in making sure that the use of face masks, sanitizing, social distance is mandatory and that journalists are following all the required  procedures.

“As everyone knows, we are living in a difficult and sensitive time due to the global Coronavirus outbreak and we thought it wise to distribute these materials to our members just to make sure that they are always protecting themselves.

“The reflector bibs are meant for us to be easily identified by the stadium officials, health surveillance officials as well as security personnel that we are leading by example to avoid us catching the virus or give ourselves the potential to spread it.”

He profoundly thanked partners, Evel and Chris for volunteering to work with the association — starting with their contribution by branding the equipment for free.

“We don’t take this gesture for granted and we are expecting a very good partnership going forward,” Frederich said.

Evel and Chris Managing Director, Robert Mbeza was very thankful to FJA leadership for choosing the company to print the materials as well as accepting the partnership.

“I can promise that we are ready to work hand in hand with FJA and make sure that we develop the game of football together.

Coronavirus alert

“We also feel honoured for being asked to come and officially handover these materials because it shows that FJA is impressed with our work,” Mbeza said.

FJA, which was formed in 2019 to look after the interests of football reporters, has so far a total of 50 members across Malawi and its president is Joy Ndovi of the Nation Publication.

All this is being done in order to sensitise the public that it is only over only when it is over and until then, there is need to religiously continue practising the preventive measures.

Dr. Phuka

On Saturday, Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, Dr. John Phuka dated journalists for a day-long workshop meant to impress on the scribes against relaxing in reporting on the pandemic even though there has been low numbers of new infections of late.

Dr. Phuka impressed on the journalists that the relaxation on the reporting of the pandemic might have also made the public to believe it was now safe not to mask up, not to hand sanitize and not to keep social distance at mass gatherings.

A day after, the Presidential Task Force reported a new COVID-19 related death of a 34-year-old man from Nkhotakota, bring the total number of deaths to 187 since the outbreak in April.

Coronavirus alert

As of Monday, there were four new cases, no new recoveries, and no new deaths from the 261 tests that were done

Two of the new cases were locally transmitted infections — one each from Lilongwe and Blantyre Health Districts and the other two were imported cases that entered through Kamuzu International Airport recently.

The situation report from Dr. Phuka says cumulatively, Malawi has recorded 6,070 cases and of these, 1,187 are imported infections and 4,883 are locally transmitted.

Cumulatively, 5,491 cases have now recovered, 106 were lost to follow-up, and 242 are still being investigated to ascertain their outcome.

Coronavirus alert

This brings the total number of active cases to 44. Of the active cases, two are currently admitted at Queen Elizabeth and at Zomba Central Hospitals.

Dr. Phuka stresses that although the number of new cases per day remains low, the country is having new cases that are both local and imported cases.

“The disease is still spreading locally, and we are at risk of the number of active cases increasing quickly because of the additional burden from the imported cases.

“The burden of additional risk from imported cases comes from those 

traveling both by air and by land. Therefore, we need to remain vigilant in our fight against COVID-19 to keep the number of active cases low.

Coronavirus alert

“We can reduce this risk by ensuring that those traveling abroad remain healthy through their travel.

“Therefore, all Malawians or residents of Malawi traveling abroad should remember to implement preventive measures at a personal level while in transit or while in destination countries.”

He also said to ensure that the risk of COVID-19 transmission is minimized during this festive month, every citizen should include the preventive measures when planning their celebrations.

These include observing physical distancing, hand hygiene, respiratory etiquette including wearing facemask and ensuring adequate ventilation when having indoor activities.

Appeal from Sandra Sharon Kamanga