What you need to know:
- Vihiga Oueens coach Alexander Alumira said: "You cannot argue with science and we do not know of any active sportsperson who was infected with Covid-19 and succumbed. The government should reconsider its stand on sports because exercise is one of the key factors to fight disease."
- Last Wednesday, Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe said the blanket ban of sports events will be enforced until the Covid-19 infection rates reduce in the country.
Local sports stakeholders want the government to lift the blanket ban on sporting activities in the country following the findings by a recent study that lack of physical activity is an impediment in the Covid-19 pandemic fight.
President Uhuru Kenyatta suspended all sporting activities in the country on March 26 following a spike in Covid-19 cases. The ban is the second after the first one in March 2020, which was lifted last November, but not for all disciplines.
The study, which was conducted in the US by a team of eight doctors and published in the British Journal of Sports a fortnight ago, established that physical inactivity is risky in Covid-19 fights.
It compared the hospitalisation rates, Intensive Care Unit (ICU) admission and mortality for patients with Covid-19, who were consistently inactive, doing some activity or consistently meeting physical activity guidelines.
It sampled about 50,000 Covid-19 adult patients from January 1 to October 21 2020, who prior to the start of the pandemic lockdown in California on March 18, 2020, had at least three exercise vital sign measurements.
The population’s average age was 47 years, with 61.9 percent being females.
“Patients with Covid-19, who were consistently inactive had a greater risk of hospitalisation, admission to the ICU and death than patients who were consistently meeting physical activity guidelines,” said the medics led by Dr Robert Sallis of Kaiser Permanente Medical Centre in Fontana, US.
“Patients who were consistently inactive also had a great risk of hospitalisation, admission to the ICU or death due to Covid-19 that patients who were doing some physical activity.”
Only advanced age, pregnancy and history of organ transplant surpassed physical inactivity as a risk factor for serious Covid-19 disease.
Nation Sport sought to establish from the government if it may consider revising the ban on sporting activities in the country based on the findings,, but Ministry of Health acting Director General, Patrick Amoth said he cannot comment on the matter, since he has not seen the study.
“I cannot comment on the matter since I do not know if the study is peer reviewed. I don’t even know the sample size.” “Sorry I will not have time to go through it,” added Amoth, when this reporter requested to share with him the study.
Health Chief Administrative Secretary Mercy Mwangangi was not available for comment, with her personal assistant saying she is held up this entire week.
Local sports stakeholders want the government to suspend the ban of sporting activities in the country thanks to the findings by the study.
“While the intentions (to suspend sporting activities) were good, it was not well advised because a study like this had not been conducted. We need to include it in the Covid-19 fight,” said Fred Ollowos, World Rugby Trainer.
“We have made them inactive, which means we are making them more vulnerable to Covid-19. We do not know what will happen next time we open,” added the former head of Technical and Development at Kenya Rugby Union.
Certified coach Instructor Bob Oyugi said: “I fully support the findings and our government should look into it to relive and protect our sportsmen and women. Many players have been infected by the virus, but I believe they overcame it because of the exercise that they were engaged in before. If the government doubts the findings, then it should carry its own study on this”
Vihiga Oueens coach Alexander Alumira said: "You cannot argue with science and we do not know of any active sportsperson who was infected with Covid-19 and succumbed. The government should reconsider its stand on sports because exercise is one of the key factors to fight disease."
Last Wednesday, Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe said the blanket ban of sports events will be enforced until the Covid-19 infection rates reduce in the country.