Top Zambian referee Janny Sikazwe is used to keeping an eye on some of the world’s top footballers, but he now has a message for fans from across the COSAFA region in the battle against the coronavirus.
Sikazwe is one of the most respected referees from the African continent, and he officiated at two matches at the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia as he took charge of the clashes between Belgium and Panama, and Japan and Poland.
A school teacher by trade, he also officiated in the final of the 2016 FIFA Club World Cup between Real Madrid and Japan’s Kashima Antlers, and he has now turned to offering advice to fans on how best to stay safe during the coronavirus pandemic.
“The whole world has been hit by a great pandemic, the coronavirus. Guidelines have been given by our authorities in the different countries,” Sikazwe says.
“And these are the guidelines I want us to share again, so that we can fight this pandemic.
“Wash your hands regularly with clean water and soap, you may also use hand sanitisers. When you go into social situations, wear your mask so that you can avoid the virus getting onto your face.
“Make sure you respect social distancing whenever you go into busy places. This pandemic, this coronavirus, this COVID-19 is attacking us through our mouth, eyes and nose, so let’s avoid touching those so that lives can be saved.
“For us to keep fighting the virus as COSAFA, we must continue to follow all those guidelines given to us by our authorities.
“If we do that, then sooner rather than later we are going to get back onto the field and play pour sports together. Remember to stay home and be safe.”
The 40-year-old was also the man in the middle when Cameroon defeated Egypt to lift the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations trophy, and at last year’s final in Egypt as well, and has been developed through numerous COSAFA events.
Supporters in all COSAFA nations are desperate for football to return, and are urged to follow the advice of the World Health Organisation (WHO) to combat the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, which include:
Wash your hands frequently: Regularly and thoroughly clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water.
Maintain social distancing: Maintain at least 1 metre (3 feet) distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth: Hands touch many surfaces and can pick up viruses. Once contaminated, hands can transfer the virus to your eyes, nose or mouth. From there, the virus can enter your body and can make you sick.
Practice respiratory hygiene: Make sure you, and the people around you, follow good respiratory hygiene. This means covering your mouth and nose with your bent elbow or tissue when you cough or sneeze. Then dispose of the used tissue immediately
If you have fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical care early: Stay home if you feel unwell. If you have a fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical attention and call in advance. Follow the directions of your local health authority.