These are strange times indeed. Planning a sporting event is no longer just about setting up infrastructure for athletes, other guests and security measures, but also keeping an eye on medical concerns. COVID has been a major issue and the rising ‘monkeypox’ cases have only added to the concern.
Around 30-35 per cent of the expected 5,000 athletes have already come to Birmingham with fewer than 24 hours remaining for the Commonwealth Games to be officially opened.
Rumours about a COVID case in the Indian contingent were denied by the Indian Olympic Association officials. The name being bandied around is a high-profile one.
Travellers, spectators, officials and athletes have also been asked to keep a watch out for “signs and symptoms of monkeypox” amid a “party atmosphere” at the event.
The UK Health Security Agency has warned: ‘It’s really important to practise safe sex.”
As per officials, there have been over 2,300 confirmed cases of monkeypox in the UK to date and that is believed to be around –10 percent of the confirmed global tally.
Peter Harcourt, medical advisor to Commonwealth Games Federation, said Birmingham 2022 had been experiencing a “dozen” COVID cases a day.
Asked how many cases Birmingham 2022 had identified, Harcourt added: “We have had about a dozen a day and we have had about 1,200 to 1,400 athletes going through so it gives you an idea that it is not a huge number.”
Though Britain has removed all COVID entry rules for travellers, Birmingham has insisted that all guests need to be tested.
Athletes and officials have been required to take a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test for COVID before travelling to Birmingham and they need another upon arrival. Athletes are required to undergo COVID testing before gaining entry into the Games Village as well.
However, it is not clear what ‘process’ will be adopted in case of a positive test.
Harcourt said that they would handle it on a “case-by-case basis”. Each person testing positive will undergo a risk assessment before a decision is taken on whether they need to be placed in isolation and where – a quarantine hotel or Games Village. COVID history and vaccination status will also be taken into account, he said.
Defending the measures implemented by organisers, Harcourt said, “We are in the middle of a really tough time in the pandemic. It’s complex, it’s changing all the time. I am pretty happy with the way things are here. They have done an excellent job.”