SAFA chief medical officer explains safe return to play plan

The South African Football Association (SAFA) chief medical officer Dr Thulani Ngwenya has explained how a safe return to playing football will work.

The Premier Soccer League (PSL) is working with SAFA on the plan to resume the 2019/20 season in a "bio bubble", which would effectively place all of the PSL teams in a controlled environment, safe from potential COVID-19 infection.

Ngwenya has explained what such a plan would look like in practical terms.

"There is a proposal of a biologically safe environment. And that document does not name a place‚ but it describes what type of a place it should be‚" Ngwenya told an online press conference of the SA Football Journalists Association (SAFJA).

"The place should not be regarded as an epicentre or hotspot by the goverment. It should have enough space to accommodate all the clubs It talks about single-room occupancy. The place should have enough training and playing fields."

"The plan says that 48 hours before the teams go to that biologically safe environment they are going to be tested again‚" the SAFA medical chief continued.

"The second testing will try and eliminate the possibility of having a false negative test from the first test.

"And now that you are 48 hours away from the BSE‚ those who are cleared will go to a mini-camp wherever they are. Because we don't want them‚ after a second test‚ going home and being contaminated.

"That's where the importance of the team doctor and compliance officer come in.

"They go from this 48-hour mini-camp to the BSE. In that BSE‚ everyone who goes in will not be allowed out until the games are completed.

"In there‚ they will be screened on a daily basis. Anyone with symptoms will be further evaluated by the team doctor‚ who will report back to the person overseeing the BSE‚ and we will decide whether to test or isolate the individual.

"If someone tests positive‚ there is an isolation area outside but close to the BSE. That whole team and technical staff are then tested again too.

"It's quite a comprehensive document‚ but that's the idea behind it."