Hope for sports return as COVID-19 cases reduce

There is hope for a return of sporting activities in the country, following the continuous reduction in the daily recorded cases of Covid-19.

The Federal Government had March 18 announced the suspension of all sporting activities in the country in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.

The suspension meant that the National Sports Festival, scheduled for March 22 to April 1, was postponed indefinitely.

However, the FG lockdown had been relaxed, with worship centres, schools and hospitality centres gradually resuming activities, thus sparking up hope that sporting events might commence soon.

Checks by our correspondent showed that with the highest daily cases in the country recorded July 1 (790), there has been a gradual decrease thereafter.

Since July 1, the highest other figure recorded was July 11, when there were 664 positive cases. This has however continued to reduce on a daily basis.

Between July 25 and August 3, the nation had 438, 555, 648, 624, 404, 481, 462, 386, 304, 288 cases respectively, according to results obtained from the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control.

Our correspondent learnt the sports ministry was monitoring the situation with the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 to propose the best time for sports return.

“The ministry is working in close alliance with the  PTF to monitor  development regarding when it is safe to reopen sports. Like the Federal Government, the (sports) minister is concerned about the welfare and wellbeing of all athletes, officials and fans,” Special Adviser on Media to the sports minister, John Joshua-Akanji, told the newsmen.

“While the protocol for sports has been  submitted, we will not risk the lives of our sportsmen and women by rushing to resume  sports when it is not safe to do so. As soon as the situation improves, we shall resume with non-contact sports.”

The reduction in the positive cases comes despite the increased testing being recorded in the country.

Nigeria presently has 61 testing laboratories in 31 states, with Bayelsa, Taraba, Yobe, Niger, Yobe, Kebbi and Zamfara the only states without testing labs.

The Federal Capital Territory has the highest number of test labs – six—while Lagos and Kano states have five each. River and Kaduna have four each, while Edo has three.

Other states with multiple testing labs are Abia, Anambra, Bauchi, Cross River, Enugu, Imo, Ogun, Oyo and Plateau, who all have two labs each.

Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, had, while announcing the opening of worship centres last Saturday, expressed delight at the reduced cases, despite increased testing.

“I must however also mention that we have seen a general decrease in positivity rates in Lagos State over the past two weeks, which, combined with the increase in testing numbers, paints a very encouraging picture of the outcome of our response strategy. We will continue to fine-tune our efforts and strategies to build on our successes and close any existing gaps,” Sanwo-Olu said.

Further checks by our correspondent also revealed that there have also been reductions in the cases recorded daily in states which occupy the top five positions in the total number of cases.

With the continuous flattening of the COVID-19 curve, it is believed that sporting activities would return in the country, just like other African and European countries, which have been able to manage the deadly virus.

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