New tool to help endurance event organisers measure Covid risk

02 July 2020 - 15:00 By David Isaacson
The department of health rolled out Covid-19 screening and testing stations across Alexandra township, Johannesburg on April 27 2020.
The department of health rolled out Covid-19 screening and testing stations across Alexandra township, Johannesburg on April 27 2020.
Image: ALON SKUY

A free online tool has been created to assist organisers of endurance events in assessing Covid-19 risks.

And one of the brains behind the initiative was Stellenbosch University sports and exercise science expert Prof Wayne Derman‚ SA’s chief doctor for past Olympic and Paralympic teams.

“For the last three months‚ those of us with a responsibility for endurance sport have been trying to help with the return of sports in an environment that will be as safe as possible‚” Derman said in a statement released by the university.

He is part of an international Outbreak Prevention Task Force that developed the tool.

With the coronavirus still likely to be a threat once mass participation events are allowed to resume‚ the tool will offer organisers a chance to minimise the risks of infection.

“The tool recognises the status of the pandemic where the event is taking place‚ for example whether it is active‚ receding or subject to additional waves‚” said Derman.

“Until a vaccine is found‚ there is never going to be zero risk. Instead we look at mitigation strategies that can be employed to lower that risk as much as possible‚” he said.

“It’s a pushing and prompting tool that examines things like: Does the event include athletes from parts of the world where the pandemic might be more active‚ or is this just a local event? Will spectators be present or not?

"What is the plan in place in case there is an outbreak during the event and can people be safely referred to the local hospital? Are the feeding and watering tables‚ and the people using them‚ adequately protected? So‚ it’s a tool of education and a tool of risk mitigation.

“Use of the tool doesn’t guarantee an event can take place‚ because every meet will be subject to local conditions‚ laws and approval by necessary authorities.

“Current regulations in South Africa states that no mass endurance sport is allowed. But once these regulations are lifted‚ event organisers can use the tool to assess the risk‚ and go to local authorities to present a considered plan‚” said Derman.

The tool is available at idom.worldathletics.org.

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