MINISTRY OF HEALTH
DIRECTORATE OF PUBLIC HEALTH
Remarks by the Ag. Head, Directorate of Public Health on behalf of the Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Health on the Launch of the Guidelines for Resumption of Sporting
Madam Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Sports, Culture and Heritage, Hon. Amb. (Dr) Amina Mohammed;
Principal Secretary State Department of Sports, Mr. Joe Okundo;
Principal Secretary State Department of Culture and Heritage, Ms Josephta Mukobe;
Distinguished guests, Ladies and Gentlemen.
Since Kenya reported her first case of COVID-19 on 13th March 2013, Kenya has so far recorded 36,576 confirmed cases out of a total 509,176 laboratory tests.
Thus far, the government has instituted several containment measures aimed at curbing the transmission of the virus which is mainly spread through droplets emitted from the mouth and nose of the infected person entering directly into another person’s airways or those droplets landing on a surface where a second person picks them up and applies them on their face, eyes mouth, or nose
The government put in COVID-19 containment measures some of which have been quite drastic such as the closure of schools, places of worship and entertainment places, suspension of international travel and local travel, the imposition of quarantine on all arriving passengers from international travel or persons who may have come into contact with an infected person just to mention but a few.
Sporting was not spared and all sporting activities were all suspended. The closure of sporting has seen loss of livelihoods for sportsmen and their trainers. Our stadiums “ghost-houses” or “Museums”, and sporting a great loss to all Kenyans as a means of entertainment.
The Ministry of Health has been watching the pandemic evolve globally and we have all witnessed other countries in the west open up sporting albeit with caution. There are good signs that the effect of the pandemic may be reducing globally. Here in our home country, we continue to witness a reduction in the positivity rate of our tests and a reduction in the number of patients requiring hospital admission and critical care. Despite the encouraging trend, we urge all Kenyans to maintain the prevention measures that have been put in place which include physical distancing, frequently washing hands, sanitizing and wearing a face mask at all times when in public places.
As we face the challenge posed by the epidemic in the sporting arena we are forced to strike a balance between the economic benefits of the sporting industry and ensuring that the pandemic does not spring up from the resumption of sporting activities
In this regard, the Ministry of Health has partnered with the Ministry of Sports, Culture and Heritage and developed the protocols that will ensure a degree of safety in the resumption of Sporting Activities during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The technical team from the Ministry of Health has reviewed the protocols and engaged the technical team from your Ministry of Sports on various aspects of the protocols.
We acknowledge that the Ministry of Sports has made substantial efforts to address the provisions for social distancing, wearing of face masks and health screening of entrants into the sporting venues. However, at a time when the country is witnessing widespread community transmission of COVID-19, and with 88% of the positive cases being asymptomatic, it is important to note that, screening may not guarantee participants protection against disease transmission while engaging in certain high-risk games.
The Ministry has recommended and concurred with the Ministry of Sports in a phased reopening of sporting activities. Therefore, there shall be;
- The continued suspension of high contact games such as judo, karate, boxing, wrestling, Chess and Ajua
- The continued suspension of sports that are associated with high aerosols, which include swimming, and other water sports.
- No spectators in the sporting arenas
In addition to the above, the following provisions have been made;
- In the event that there are continental events, special considerations and protocols will be given including the need for prior testing to minimize the risk of disease transmission.
- Event organizers and venue managers shall ensure that all containment and hygiene measures are strictly adhered to
- Each sportsman takes individual responsibility and is his brother’s/Sister’s keeper
We take this opportunity to urge all stakeholders in the sporting industry to uphold a high level of brotherhood and sisterhood, in the spirit of teamwork and work against the scourge of stigma. Discriminating against those who may have gotten the illness will work against us all. Instead, let us embrace such persons as champions and ambassadors and witnesses of a promise for a bright future ahead.
Finally, Madam CS, Ladies and Gentlemen,
The Ministry of Health remains committed and ready to engage with Ministry of Sports and all stakeholders in the sporting industry to ensure the safety for all and create a safe sporting environment amidst the reality of the COVID-19 pandemic.