There is fear in the air as South Africa’s first case of coronavirus was confirmed, and this may affect the turnout of one of the country’s biggest and most anticipated cycling events, the Cape Town Cycle Tour.
Cycle Tour organiser Dave Bellairs is assuring participants that there are protocols in place to deal with anyone presenting possible symptoms. “We have a full protocol in place, with our medical partners. They are MediClinic and provincial health services,” he said.
On Thursday, the National Department of Health announced that a 38-year-old man had tested positive for Covid-19 in KwaZulu-Natal after travelling to South Africa from Italy. The European country has become one of the world’s biggest infection redzones, and there are many participants from Italy who partake in the Cycle Tour every year.
According to Bellairs, two parties from Italy have already cancelled. “There are twenty-five participants who are registered as Italian, but it is unclear whether they are simply Italian and living elsewhere, or residents in the country,” he said.
Thus far, there are 3 089 confirmed cases of Covid-19 infection and nearly 148 fatalities in Italy.
Bellairs added that it is unclear how the Cycle Tour’s turnout will be affected by the virus. “There are many people registered, but we will not be able to tell if there are less participants than previous years because the entries for the race had closed before the virus was as widespread. For now, we have many participants registered, but we are unsure of how many will actually participate.”
The Tour has sent an advisory to its international participants about the coronavirus.
On its website, the Cape Town Cycle Tour said: “It is acutely aware of the current circumstances surrounding the COVID-19 virus, we are monitoring the situation as it unfolds and working closely with our chief medical officer, Dr Darren Green of MediClinic.”
“We are taking our lead from the provincial and national departments of Health, who in turn are working closely with and being guided by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD).
“Together with our medical team, we have developed protocols for Lifecycle Week, including race day, which we will have in place. We look forward to welcoming all participants to the start this coming Sunday.
“The provincial government of the Western Cape has set up a platform that they will keep updated with all relevant information in respect of the COVID -19 situation.”
Picture: Cape Town Cycle Tour