As sporting activities remain suspended due to Covid-19 in the country, the government has turned Kamuzu Stadium in Blantyre into a waiting bay for people repatriated from South Africa.
The move comes as a result of congestion at Mwanza border forcing the government to opt for another venue to be used as a bay for people who have undergone coronavirus test on return from South Africa.
Both Director of Health in the Ministry of Health Dr. Charles Mwansambo and spokesperson in the Ministry of Sports Simon Bvundula confirmed the development Tuesday.
Mwansambo said they settled for the venue, to ease overcrowding of repatriated people at the border.
“We acted quickly after learning that the situation at Mwanza border was not okay on Sunday. We opted for this venue [Kamuzu stadium] since Covid-19 tests are being carried in Blantyre, so it is better to use the facility for such operations. We wanted them to be near to the testing centre so that once they get their results they should be dispatched for quarantine or otherwise,” he said.
Mwansambo said they were putting in place necessary structure to ensure that the venue has structures for the operation.
“What we have done is to make sure that the stadium has all the necessary equipment in-line with Covid-19 pandemic precautions such as hand sanitiser, soap and face mask,” he said.
However, Bvundula said Kamuzu Stadium was not a quarantine centre for repatriated nationals but a waiting bay for people awaiting Covid-19 test results.
“I would like to clarify that the Kamuzu Stadium is not being used as a quarantine centre rather it is being used as a waiting place for results. The results are not taking long so once results are out they are leaving the place immediately,” he said.
Bvundula said it was not the first time that the facility had been used for similar activity.
“Maybe just to take you back, Kamuzu stadium has been also used to keep people returning from South Africa during xenophobia attacks period, so it is the same this time around. All what we are looking for is to ensure that the facility is protected from Covid-19 as we are taking precautions against the pandemic,” Bvundula said.
However, sports analyst, George Chiusiwa, expressed fear that turning Kamuzu Stadium to a waiting place for Covid-19 tests would risk athletes and others who use the facility for health and fitness purposes.
“Although the Kamuzu Stadium is not being used as quarantine centre but the fact that it will be accommodating people returning from South Africa we have got high risk of taking this virus. Our athletes who do their own trainings will be affected as well. So the best way is that the stadium officials must not accommodate athletes as of now until the exercise ends,” Chiusiwa said.
Recently, Football Association of Malawi (Fam) offered its Mzuzu based Luwinga Technical Centre to the government to be used as an isolation centre for Covid-19 patients.
However, people from the surrounding area vandalised the facility in protest over the move.