By: Nabila Essam
Prime Minister Dr. Moustafa Madbouly held a meeting to review the preventive plan that will be implemented during the World Handball Championship, which will be hosted by Egypt from 13th to 31st of January 2021. The meeting was attended by Dr. Ashraf Sobhy, Minister of Youth and Sports, and Dr. Hassan Moustafa, President of the international Handball federation and Dr. Hala Zayed, Minister of Health and Population.
The Prime Minister began the meeting by emphasising that Egypt pays great attention to this important event, especially that President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi is keen to follow up on Egypt's preparations to host the tournament. The President directed the government to take all necessary measures to ensure that this global event is organized in an honourable manner befitting Egypt.
Nader Saad, the official spokesman for the Ministers’ Cabinet, said that Dr. Moustafa Madbouly affirmed that the government is working on completing the organization and all its details in the best possible manner, with taking all the preventive measures related to the Coronavirus, to preserve the health and safety of everyone, Egyptians and foreigners.
From his side, Dr. Ashraf Sobhy confirmed that the Ministry of Youth and Sports is working apace to follow up all the details regarding hosting the tournament, whether concerning the stadiums and their readiness, accommodation hotels and transportation, and medical and preventive measures in coordination with the Ministry of Health.
In the same context, Dr. Hassan Moustafa, IHF president, praised the efforts of Egypt to organize the tournament, pointing that this tournament is the most important one in the world of handball, and that he is confident in Egypt's ability to organize it optimally.
The Cabinet spokesman added that the IHF President hailed the decision taken by the government last June to resume sports activities, stressing that it was a bold and wise decision, and if it wasn’t taken, two Egyptian teams would not have reached the final of the Football CAF Champions League.
Dr. Hala Zayed mentioned that the Ministry's plan in this matter depends on four core areas: risk assessment, raising awareness, implementing the precautionary measures, and handling suspected cases.
She clarified that risk assessment will be done by the classification of the degree of Coronavirus’ activity in the participating countries and also by implementing the quarantine procedures to all attendees, in addition to raising the level of precautionary measures to deal with these countries without compromising the planned activities., as well as conducting a PCR test for all delegations upon their arrival in the hotels and it will be repeated every 72 hours.
As for raising awareness, the Ministry of Health will implement many activities to raise the awareness, such as providing training materials and preventive guidance to all participants in the tournament, training all medical teams on the mechanisms of suspecting cases and reporting them, and identifying points of contact in each hotel and for each team separately. The Ministry will also provide the scientific material and draft it in a way suitable for projecting on screens, train the staff of hotels, stadiums, and administrative bodies participating in the tournament on preventive measures, and train workers on collecting waste safely.
The Ministry of Health indicated that the precautionary measures that will be implemented during the tournament include stabilizing the workforce that has a direct contact with the sports delegations at every hotel or stadium hosting one of the teams until the team’s delegation travels, and stabilizing all kinds of employment in the form of fixed packages with each team during the duration of the tournament so that the interaction will be limited to certain persons which will limit the spread of coronavirus and facilitates the process for contacts tracing.
The precautionary measures include the application of social distancing rules, by dividing the stadium into zones, each zone is marked by a certain colour and has certain preventive measures. The individuals in each coloured zone have to limit their movement within the specified area for them. The measures also include avoiding overcrowding during the training times and when playing the official matches and maintaining social distance during meetings, dining rooms, restrooms, and hotel rooms, so that the percentage of presence does not exceed 25% to 50% of the capacity of these places, in addition to avoiding crowding in buses transporting technical and administrative teams, and specifying entry and exit paths from halls and stadiums.
The precautionary measures also include good ventilation of all places, and making sure that all participants have to be in open places when available. All participants have to wear face masks in common places, recommending the use of cups and dishes that are single-use when eating or drinking, and making sure not to share clothes and personal tools with others.
The Health Minister added that the precautionary measures include periodic disinfection and providing a safe and healthy environment, through hotels and stadiums administrations to provide all transmission control supplies and sanitizers and to sanitize all public regions and surfaces, as well as alerting the importance of providing hand sanitizer in all the previous places were members of delegations are present at all times. They have to insure the availability of personal protective equipment such as masks, gloves, etc.
Dr. Hala Zayed addressed the mechanisms of dealing with suspected cases, as the preventive crisis room will be activated to work 24 hours a day to receive reports first-hand from the governorates hosting the tournament, and a rapid response team will be assigned in the event venues to deal immediately with suspected cases, and follow-up on people who contacted positive cases, ensuring the availability of appropriate isolation rooms in accommodation hotels, training and stadiums, and apply all infection control measures to them.
In the same context, the Minister pointed out that the electronic symptom surveillance system will be implemented to activate the precautionary measures immediately, and when simple symptoms appear on one of the participants, the case is medically evaluated, a swab is made to conduct a PCR test, and the patient is isolated in his room in the hotel or in the isolation room designated for that, while following up on those in contact with the patient.
At the end of the meeting, the Prime Minister ordered the formation of a task force including the ministers of Youth and Sports, Health, Tourism, and Transportation, and representatives of the IHF to discuss details of spectators’ attendance, especially the details of transportation and accommodation hotels.