Presidential Task Force on Covid-19 has warned that it will be forced to reinstate the ban on sports activities in the wake of continued laxity in adhering to preventive guidelines among spactators.
The warning was made by task force co-chairperson Khumbize Kandodo-Chiponda, who is also Minister of Health, during a press conference held in Lilongwe at the weekend.
Said the minister: “We do not want to be forced to ban sports activities. We appreciate that athletes depend on sports for a living, but if it continues, we will be forced to act because we do not want to put the lives of the people at risk.
“The sports sector complained and pleaded for the resumption of games and we gave them guidelines, but unfortunately those guidelines are not being followed, so too musicians. It is a worrisome situation.
“Our appeal to sports, music and drama organisers is please let us love our country.”
On his part, Minister of Information Gospel Kazako, who is also a member of the task force, said: “As government, it is our duty to ensure that people are protected from contracting Covid-19.
“Please let us ensure that we should not reach a point whereby we are forced to close schools or suspend sports activities.”
The warning comes barely days after Ministry of Health Principal Secretary Charles Mwansambo also expressed concern on the same and warned that they would be forced to reverse the earlier decision to allow fans in stadia.
It also comes in the face of a steady increase in Covid-19 cases in the past week.
In an interview with The Nation last week, the task force co-chairperson John Phuka said one of the contributing factors could be relaxation of preventive measures.
Malawi National Council of Sports acting executive secretary Henry Mereka yesterday said all associations will now be required to submit plans containing Covid-19 guidelines before hosting any event.
He said: “On our part, we are in constant monitoring and we give feedback to the Ministry [of Youth and Sports]. Where we see gaps, associations in question are engaged so that we are compliant at all times.
“We have insisted on the need to follow guidelines as we cannot afford to close sport due to laxity.”
On his part, Football Association of Malawi president Walter Nyamilandu said there is need to heed the warning seriously.
He said: “We are appealing to the fans not to take this opportunity of football resumption lightly, but to take Covid-19 safety guidelines seriously.
“This is for their own good because their lives are precious.”