Reading the words, yesterday, from our Israeli internationals where they talked about how their latest brush with the bug has affected them, I thought of the reams of press coverage over the last year in which we’ve heard that the young and healthy don’t have as much to worry about as those in older age groups, or who have underlying health issues.
Footballers would most certainly fit it into that category.
But all three of our recently affected players have reported symptoms and in the case of the Israeli players, they present a nasty picture of something that is perfectly capable of wearing down even a modern athlete. That should sink in more than it has.
Those of us who live alongside people who are shielding need to be extra careful in how we live our lives.
Others and especially young people, sometimes think they can afford to take more risks. But this is Russian roulette. Even if there’s no direct risk to others inherent in what they do – which itself is a daft notion – they gamble with their own health.
It’s been a frustrating year for all of us so far, and we don’t seem any closer to the end of this thing than we were back in April or May; the thing is, though, we know roughly how to beat this bug now. We know how to limit the spread of it, how to take preventative measures.
We know that wearing masks is effective both in preventing you getting it and spreading it if you do.
We know handwashing works.
We know social distancing is effective.
We know other things as well; we know that this thing spreads easily.
That should be obvious from the fact that footballers are amongst the most contained people in the country, and yet three of our squad have had this thing.
Hell, even the halls of government can’t keep this out and they have access to regular screening and the best information.
We know that it hospitalises one in every five people who get it.
We know that the course of it is unpredictable.
We know now that around one in ten sufferers is still feeling the effects of the virus more than three weeks after symptoms develop, and some get the “long” version of the disease which still impacts on them months later.
Our footballers will have to be monitored carefully before being allowed to return to training, and if this is true of professional athletes, how true do you think it is for the average Jane or Joe?
A lot of people have zoned out in regards the seriousness of this; that is a mistake which nobody who read what Abd Elhamed would ever repeat.
“A day before the match I got a negative test,” he said. “So I assumed there is not a chance I’m positive now. So I played and from the start I knew something was wrong. I couldn’t breathe, my body was so tired, I felt something was wrong. But I kept playing until the end – a big mistake. But I won’t leave a match unless i can’t walk on my own power. After the match I almost collapsed, went into a side room at the stadium, drank a lot and took some pills from our doctor. I took a taxi home to self-quarantine and the next day I tested positive.”
Nir Bitton puts it even more bluntly.
“I went through some hard days with this virus. It wasn’t easy at all,” he said. “Before I got the disease I underestimated it, but it was not pleasant. I had headaches, my muscles ached and I could not stand up. I had to sit.”
Then, in a statement which should be echoing through every person out there who thinks their youth or physical state will be some sort of panacea against this thing, he spelled it out.
“You do not know what you are heading towards. Everyone knows how the disease starts, but not how it ends. If it affected me, a young and athletic guy, I do not know how it affects older people. We see deaths and I need to say to people, watch out. Stay at home and look after your relatives. This is not an easy disease.”
That spells it out somehow more than some of the confused and even contradictory government health advice from London; there is no age or health bracket where you can consider yourself “safe” from catching this thing … our own footballers have found that out.